Grief support options are available

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Margaret Hayden said she wants to accentuate the positive this holiday season.

“I hope people will make a list of things that make them happy,” she said. “Joy and happiness come from within.” Hayden, who leads a grief support group at Henry Christian Church, said she will hand out cards to members of the group she started two years ago at the church. “People can fill them out with things they’re thankful for,” she said.

Hayden began the group following the death of her husband, Lawrence, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Hayden said originally the pastor, Ed Berry, thought it would be better to wait until after the holidays to get it started. “I told him it was needed before,” she said.

The support group is a casual one with no specific meeting plan or agenda. Hayden said she is not a counselor and the meeting offers a comfortable place for people to get together and talk. “We just meet and share our hurts and try to help each other,” she said.

At one time there were as many as a dozen participants, but Hayden said there are just three or four right now. “There’s not too many coming now, but I didn’t want to quit, especially at this time of year,” she said.

Hayden said the group shares ideas, reads a devotional and always ends with prayer. “You have to be sure to include the Lord,” she said. Hayden said it helps her to begin her prayers with thankfulness. “I thanked the Lord that I could keep my husband at home,” she said.

New Castle’s Debbie and David Derosset suffered the unthinkable. Their 22-year old son, Eric, was stabbed to death in Feb. 2004.

The Derossets found some solace at Compassionate Friends, a self-help bereavement organization for families who have lost a child.

Debbie Derosset said she encourages bereaved parents to embrace any help they can find through such services as one-on-one counseling or Compassionate Friends. “Anywhere you can find support and comfort,” she said.

According to its Web site, Compassionate Friends was founded in 1968 in England when a chaplain, Simon Stephens, brought two sets of grieving parents together and realized they offered each other more support than he could as a chaplain. The U.S. Compassionate Friends was established in 1978 in Illinois. More than 600 chapters operate throughout the United States, offering friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved families.

Compassionate Friends offers a list of advice for handling the holidays. They say to be kind to yourself and remember that it is okay to cry. One item says to remember that the anticipation of a holiday is often worse than the holiday itself.

A Candlelight Memorial Service sponsored by The Compassionate Friends Frankfort Chapter will be held at the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall, 316 Ann Street, Frankfort on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 6:30 p.m.

Debbie Derosset said they continue with their healing process. “The devastating pain and overwhelming sense of loss has diminished to a deep ache in the center of our being,” Debbie Derosset said. “We continue on this journey because we can hear Eric say, ‘Mom, Dad, you can do this!’”

The Grief Support Group in Henry County meets the second Sunday of each month at 3 p.m. at the Henry Christian Church, 138 Castle Highway, New Castle. The church phone number is 845-4728.

Compassionate Friends of Frankfort meets twice monthly on the first and third Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Franklin County Health Department, 100 Glenns Creek Rd., Frankfort. Contact Karen Cantrell at (502) 320-6438 for more information. Visit their website at www.compasionatefriends.org.


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