GriefShare

By Tom & Linda Mathre  |  Newark, IL

In the Bible, we see that Job was put through deep grief with the loss of all his children, possessions, health, and a non-supportive wife. Yet, during his trials and grief, Job got to know God in a much more intimate way, as his Savior.

John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” He wept knowing full well that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He could have scolded Mary and Martha and questioned the strength of their faith, but He didn’t. He loved them and He felt their heartache and pain. When you love a lot, you grieve a lot.

We lost our 16-year-old daughter, Jessica, in a car accident on January 11, 2003. To say the least, it was the toughest challenge of our lives and marriage. We learned of GriefShare through a neighbor.  The program had just started for the first time at their church and he thought we should try it. Linda went the first time, but being a man, I thought I didn’t need to go. I had faith. I would get through this on my own. Linda came home after the first meeting and said, “You will come with me next week. This program is full of good information and it is very helpful.” So I went with her the next week and, yes, after that first session, I looked forward to each session to follow. We were in such deep grief; we couldn’t talk for the first three weeks. I couldn’t say my daughter’s name without losing it, but the group of people became our support group. It was our safe place where we heard, through the videos, expert advice from many well-known Christian pastors, counselors, and others who have walked a journey of grief. It was a group where we could share confidentially, which was very important as the entire group was tender and wounded and in need of a safe environment.

We went through the series two-and-a-half times at that church before we felt we could continue on our journey. It taught us, as a couple, how we each grieved so differently. It allowed us to give each other our own space. It made us aware of our other children’s emotions as they grieved the loss of a sister. It probably saved our marriage as over 80% of marriages fail with the loss of a child.

Later in 2004, we started the GriefShare program at our own church. We were still finding the “new normal” for ourselves, but a woman, whom Linda knew, partnered with us. She had been widowed over 20 years earlier when her husband had died of a heart attack and left her with two children to raise on her own. She was a great help to us as she, too, felt the calling to reach out to other grieving people.  Over the past 15 years, we have had over 130 people come through the program. A few have become leaders of GriefShare groups at their own churches.