First Baptist program aims to ease grief during the holidays

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2008

Grieving the death of a loved one can make the holidays seem more like an endurance event than a celebration, and the international Christian-based recovery support group GriefShare has a program to help.

Surviving the Holidays, a two-hour seminar to help those suffering grief, will be offered Saturday at First Baptist Church. A fee of $5 covers the workbook, which includes counsel, articles, space for taking notes and biblically-based devotional material on preparing for, experiencing and finding meaning in a difficult holiday period.

“The video we are showing emphasizes, in the grieving people will have during the holidays, they will handle it different ways,” said Kevin Hurt, FBC’s minister of discipleship and missions.

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Surviving the Holidays, a GriefShare seminar sponsored by First Baptist Church, will be 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at FBC, 1608 Cherry St. Registration is at 9:45. The $5 cost includes a workbook. Preregister by Sunday and save $2. For more information, contact Kevin Hurt at 601-636-2493 or e-mail him at

Whether one has lost a spouse, child, sibling or friend, “holidays are tough,” he said.

FBC holds regular GriefShare meetings at 7 p.m. each Tuesday at the Mafan Building.

One of the program’s leaders is Ernie Hall, who is chaplain at the Warren County Jail and runs a program called Beyond Walls Ministry.

Hall found out about GriefShare the hard way after he lost a close friend in an automobile accident. He likened the grieving process to retraining your body after injury and having to learn to walk or feed yourself again.

“You really have to learn how to live all over again,” he said. “Your reality changes. That person that you loved is no longer a part of it.”

GriefShare has helped Hall not simply get through his own difficulties but turn around and help others, too, in his prison ministry.

Especially during the holidays, people can be ambushed by emotions, sometimes over small things — hearing a song, coming to a familiar spot along a path or road, unpacking an old Christmas decoration.

Not expecting the strong emotional response that can hit, “sometimes people just come unglued,” Hurt said.

The video used during Surviving the Holidays features well-known Christian writers, speakers, counselors and educators who not only draw from biblical teachings and examples, but also from their own experiences of loss.

The Psalms, Hall pointed out, are full of open-hearted, honest expressions of grief.

“It’s OK to get upset or express your anger to God,” Hurt said.

“And there’s no standard amount of time for any of these processes,” he added. “GriefShare gives people the understanding that it’s OK to take the time you need to work through them.”

Saturday’s survival program will feature the video — a 45-minute presentation addressing such issues as “Why are the holidays so tough?” and “Healing Through Relationships” — followed by refreshments and fellowship and then a group discussion.

For those who have not signed up in advance, registration will begin at 9:45., followed by the program at 10.

“Actually showing up and walking through the door is hard,” Hurt acknowledged, “but there is value in what they will be receiving if they come.”

Indidviduals who preregister by Sunday will receive a $2 discount off the registratioj fee.

For more information, contact Kevin Hurt at 601-636-2493 or e-mail him at


Contact Pamela Hitchins at