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Grief support a priceless service

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GUEST COLUMNIST: LOIS HUMPHREY

Grieving is a process that everyone goes through at some point in their life. Betty and Jeff Jones experienced the tragic loss of their daughter, Jennifer, Jan. 16, 2003, just 12 days before her 21st birthday. A car accident took her life and the Jones’ lives have never been the same.

Getting through that difficult time made Betty and Jeff realize, however, that they were not the only ones who experienced a great loss. And because of their life-changing event, the Joneses were inspired to help others. The result is a grief support group that meets regularly in Tell City.

On the third Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. each month, the Joneses can be found leading a meeting in the basement of the United Methodist Church on 10th Street. The group has established a core group of regular attendees who join together to help others get through the grief that comes with the death of a loved one: daughter, son, parent, husband, other family member or friend.

The first meeting was held March 15, 2003. Since then, the group has seen more than 30 people – some may only come once and others may attend until they feel that their grip of the grief process is under control. Some people don’t want to be a part of a group, but they want to know that there is someone “out there” going through the same thing. Jeff willingly takes calls, day or night, to support someone through the process. He and Betty also visit people in their homes or at the funeral home.

Anger is one aspect of grief, as are shock, disbelief and acceptance. Family and friends are a great strength and support, but sometimes even that is not enough. No one grieves the same. Each person goes through the same basic feelings at one time or another, but even a husband and wife may not share the same feelings at the same time.

Grief affects individuals differently. The support group helps people realize that they are not alone.

“Get over it!” or “Move on!” are words people say when they think someone has had enough time to grieve. Added to one’s grief is the expectation that others seem to have a “time frame” for them to fit all their feelings into – like a nice, neat little package. The first year, as the Jones figured out, is the hardest. The fact is, the second year isn’t a lot better. And after almost a decade without Jennifer, the wound is still very real.

Simply, life will never be the same. Not that life isn’t good, but it isn’t the same.

Time changes the way a person heals. Some days, a sudden rush of sadness may come over Betty or Jeff. Why? Oh! It’s Jennifer’s birthday, or it’s the day Jennifer left for college, or … no specific reason. They just miss her smile or her laugh.

In December, the Grief Support Group will host its second “Remembrance and Hope” Candlelight Service.

Last year, 53 candles were lit for loved ones. This is a service many attend even though they don’t come to the group. Photos and favorite quotes are shown on a large screen so that everyone can have a moment to reflect on their loss of the past and their hope for the future.

Everyone is welcome to attend the support group meetings. Everyone is also welcome to participate in the December candlelight service.