Vance Walkling knows God and a program called GriefShare can help people navigate the journey of loss.
Walkling’s first wife, Sheri, was killed seven years ago in a car accident. His second wife, Karen, died two years ago in December.
Now, the Fremont man is using what he’s learned to help others by serving as a facilitator for GriefShare, a video-driven, Christ-centered program. GriefShare provides information on what attendees can expect while grieving and tips on moving ahead without losing the legacy of the person who died.
Fremont Church of the Nazarene has hosted GriefShare for about two-and-a-half years.
On Feb. 6, the program will begin with Week 1 in the video series. The public is invited to the session, which starts at 7 p.m. in the church at 960 Johnson Road. Workbooks, which contain a Bible study, cost $20, but scholarships are available.
People are also reading…
Those who can’t make it that night are still encouraged to come.
“GriefShare is meant to be an emergency room ministry. It’s available for whenever you need it, just like the emergency room. We meet every Monday and whether you’ve been through the program 10 times or this is the first time, you will benefit,” said the Rev. Mickey Boell, pastor of worship arts, restoration ministry and community outreach at the Nazarene church.
Boell started GriefShare at the church after having previously attending and benefitting from the sessions elsewhere.
“I started it because I saw the benefit of it for myself,” Boell said. “After I lost my father, I tried to do the healing on my own and made a lot of bad decisions, because when you feel lost you’re grasping at straws.”
Boell knows the pain of loss.
“I can remember feeling so drowned in my own sadness there were days I felt like I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
She had a misconception about GriefShare at first.
“I was scared of GriefShare before I actually went through the program, because I thought moving on meant forgetting and that’s not the case,” Boell said. “It allowed me to heal so I could celebrate my dad’s life instead of just focus on his death. It’s how he would have wanted me to live.”
Boell points out how it can help others.
“This is to assist you to move forward into your ‘new normal,’ while still supporting the legacy that you’re loved one has left you with – and celebrating that, too,” Boell said.
Boell has seen people benefit from the program, open to adults of any age.
“I have watched people walk through the doors completely hopeless and in total devastation and walk out hopeful or with their heads held a little higher and they’ve developed friendships and they’ve found their way to move forward in life,” Boell said.
She’s seen people come in bitter and angry and leave more hopeful. She recalls a former attendee who went from believing nothing could help him to wanting to take out a lead a section of GriefShare.
“It was life-changing for him and others,” she said.
Boell noted that the program can help people whether they’ve lost a spouse, parent or friend. Walkling noted people who’ve lost a child have attended.
It can help people whether they’ve lost someone recently or years ago.
Boell added that the program helps those whose loved ones died after a long illness as well as those whose loved ones’ deaths were sudden. It can provide comfort and help for those with loved ones who died due to suicide, an illness, accident or any other reason.
“No matter the cause, GriefShare will help,” she said.
Boell noted the support the group can provide.
“You’re with a group of people who understand,” Boell said. “My leaders have been through the program for their own personal reasons so they understand what you’re going through. They’ve been in your shoes. I’ve seen it work in wonderful ways.”
Walkling, who facilitates GriefShare, is a former drug and alcohol counselor and has been involved in ministries such as Celebrate Recovery.
“I enjoy helping people and in recovery when you help other people it also helps you,” Walkling said.
Walkling said people have looked at the losses of his wives as a big loss, but he points out the pain of other people’s losses. He’s seen people who’ve lost a child, which he can’t imagine, or a parent. Both of his parents are still alive.
“Until you experience that, you really don’t know how it affects you,” he said.
Walkling notes what can occur after a loved one’s death.
“When somebody dies,” he said, “friends, family, the community comes around and they grieve with you at the funeral and they’re there for you. About a week after the funeral is kind of when everybody goes back to their normal life and yet you can’t go back to your normal life.”
This is where Walkling believes GriefShare can help.
“It’s gives you a place to come and share what’s going on in your life and your feelings with other people who understand and are going through the same thing,” he said.
Walkling said how Christ helps him in his grief.
“He helps me carry that burden,” Walkling said. “There’s many tragedies in the Bible, but then you see, eventually, how God uses that for good.”
This can be difficult for people to see when they’re going through tough circumstances, but Walkling conveys hope and peace as he speaks.
“For me, this is all part of God’s plan and I just need to stay grounded in him and through this, he’ll work through me to help other people and for other people to help me,” he said.