The Trucksville United Methodist Church is hosting a grief counseling support group once a month as it attempts to support those who need help in their time of grief.
The group open to the community and is held as a discussion facilitated by Dallas resident Brenda Birdsall.
Reverend Marian Hartman, who has been with church a little over a year, had been particularly touched by the amount of young people who have died in the Back Mountain over the last year and a half. She shared that she lost a child about nine years ago.
“The demands of the world don’t stop for us,” Hartman said.
She added that, after a loss, a person needs time to grieve and accept what has happened, but must also continue working and living themselves.
“But the world sometimes just expects you to get over it,” Hartman said.
“We were looking to see what kind of ministry we could provide, to offer people hope that as hard as it is there is healing,” she added. “Brenda showed up at the opportune time and had this wonderful background with Hospice and she offered to help.”
“I call it a God thing,” Hartman said.
Birdsall started attending the Trucksville church when she moved to the area in 2011. She is part of the Nurturing and Care Committee, an outreach program designed by the church to stay in touch with the community. This committee sends bereavement packets.
Seeing the need for more support in the community, Birdsall offered to start a grief and loss support group.
“It came from people saying they wish they had a place to go for support and for education,” she said. “I used to work as the bereavement coordinator for Hospice in Upstate New York.”
The group held its first meeting in September 2012.
Since then, it has held monthly meetings in the Quiet Room at the Trucksville United Methodist Church on the third Wednesday of each month.
The number of attendees fluctuates each month, but according to Birdsall, those who attend participate in the open discussions and are grateful for somewhere to express their emotions.
“We’re filling a need that wasn’t being met in the community,” she said. “It’s a safe place where they can open up.”
Even though meetings are held in a church, the group is not necessarily a faith-driven support group. People don’t need to be part of the church or feel strong in their faith to participate.
“I come from a clinical background and so the support group isn’t based in the religion but in practice,” Birdsall said.
With “quite a bit” of help from fellow church member Morag Michaels, Birdsall organizes and facilitates the support meetings each month. She says that sometimes she comes prepared with a topic, but prefers to meet people where they are in the grieving process.
“I think the best part of the support group is that you get validation of your feelings,” Bridsall said.
“It makes them feel less vulnerable because they really aren’t alone.”