GriefShare gives advice for surviving holidays
    December 14 2009 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    If Jackie Riggsbee Woodcock has learned one thing about grief, it’s that it is unique in each person.

    “Nobody can tell anybody how to grieve,” said Woodcock, who lost her husband, Phil, in 2005 after an 11-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Woodcock said attending a GriefShare event at a local church helped her.

    Contributed photo

    Valerie McKean, who lost her mother to pancreatic cancer, shares photos of her mom with other GriefShare participants.

    “I saw that it was a good program,” she said. “You can’t do it yourself.”

    It also inspired her to start GriefShare at her church, Westwood Baptist in Cary in 2006. The church offers spring, fall and winter sessions (13-week cycles) of GriefShare and a special “Surviving the Holidays” event near Christmas.

    Each participant at this year’s “Surviving the Holidays” event received a guide that included 30 days of devotions and Bible study.

    “A lot of memories creep back into our minds and hearts at Christmas and other holidays,” Woodcock said. 

    Woodcock added a memorial service to the special event, which drew 25 participants. People brought pictures of loved ones lost and lit candles in their memory.

    “I try to incorporate other stuff into it,” said Woodcock, who is also a volunteer with hospice and a Sunday School teacher.

    A small group stayed to watch a video about helping children with grief.

    Not all grief programs are Christ centered, Woodcock said. GriefShare uses biblical principles.

    To those who are helping others through grief or other hard times, Woodcock recommends they pray that their friends “look up and not around. Pray that they look to God … to their church family. Your Christian friends are going to help you a lot. GriefShare helped me, too.”

    When it comes to this grief-counseling ministry, Woodcock admits her bias. But it has helped her, and she has seen it help countless others.

    Her advice for someone grieving:
    • Get into GriefShare.
    • Don’t be alone.
    • Don’t hide away.
    • Don’t hold it in either.
    “You’ve got to go through it,” she said. “You have to go through it … that’s the only way to describe it. GriefShare helps you grow through the grief.”

    Grief doesn’t go away immediately either, she said. “It takes an average three to five years,” she said, advising no major decisions be made in the first year unless absolutely necessary. “Trust in God and don’t hide. Don’t sit at home and dwell on it.”

    Christmas is not the hardest for Woodcock. She stays busy with her family. Her Valentine’s wedding anniversary is much harder, she said.

    “Last year I thought I was tough and I could work through it but I couldn’t do it,” she said.

    Woodcock said she went to her full-time job every day but did not do well, to say the least. In 2010, Woodcock plans to return to her tradition of going to the beach for her anniversary.

    “Being at the ocean calms me down,” she said. “It always has. I guess it always will. I could sit and look at the water forever.”

    Another thing that has helped Woodcock has been releasing balloons. She sometimes takes red and white balloons, writes emotions that she’s had a hard time releasing on them and releases them.

    The act symbolizes “letting go and letting God take care of it,” she said. She also uses balloons in GriefShare

    One of the best things she’s found that helps her is helping others.

 The normal GriefShare sessions consist of a video and discussing the five days of Bible study included in a workbook.

    Woodcock said whether the group is small or large she feels “God sends exactly who should be there” each time. 

    “I always have plenty of (tissue) and chocolate available,” Woodcock said. “We share lots of serious times while focusing on healing thru God’s word as we move from ‘Mourning to Joy.’”  

    To find a GriefShare group near you visit and type in zip code in the “Find a group near you” section.  

    Tips to survive holidays
    Jackie Woodcock, who coordinates GriefShare at Westwood Baptist Church in Cary, offered some tips for people to survive the holidays:
    • Stay busy
    • Be with people
    • Be in church with a kind and loving church family.
    • Focus on others, not yourself.
    • Don’t hide your feelings, but don’t get stuck in them either.   
    12/14/2009 10:15:00 AM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 2 comments

I recently suffered multiple losses, all in rapid succession: my mother, for whom my husband and I cared, along with hospice, in our home, until her passing in October of 2008; my father, who was equally seriously ill at the same time, and shared caring among my sister, myself and my husband, the hospital, and, finally, several days of hospice in my home (also with the help of my dear husband)his passing occurring on February 2, 2009; then, the beloved husband, who had helped me care, side-by-side, for my parents, suddenly went to be with the Lord
right after our 8th wedding anniversary, on May 20, 2009. He was only 58 years old.
Has anyone out there experienced anything similar to this? I am currently attending Christian grief counseling, but really want to be in a Christian widow's support group.
Please respond
1/2/2010 4:17:23 PM

Gene Scarborough
The typical view of grief is that it accompanies death of a loved one.

With the economy as it is, it could be the death of a job / loss of home / no money for gifts this year / fear of losing the reduced pay job you just do have!

No matter what the source of grief, we would be wiser to talk about it in SS rather than just parse those verbs and talk in abstract terms of the long ago and far away. Most of our current lessons have applications to the failed economy and loss---if only the teacher is wise enough to get out of the rut and into the lives of people sitting in that room!!!!
12/15/2009 12:20:59 PM

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