On January 2, 2005 David Gillis,16, was killed in a car accident not far from his home in Blanco. Tommy and Jana Gillis, parents, were thrown into the world of grief. They knew right away they would need help beyond their local church and community. GriefShare was recommended by a friend.
In February of that year, they began the 13 week video seminar and support group that would help them restore their hope and faith. After a few weeks, they began bringing others from Blanco to Austin for the meetings. In the Fall of 2005, one of their friends, Mary Jane Gillespie, brought the GriefShare program to Blanco. A session each fall and spring has been offered ever since.
“I remember at first only seeing my loss as hell, pure hell,” Jana explained. “I remember getting ready for church on my first Mother’s Day without David. I thought, ‘I am living every parent’s worst nightmare.’ Then I heard David very steady and sure tell me, ‘Mom, I don’t want to be your worst nightmare.’ From that moment on, I have tried not to focus on the “hell” of grief and prefer to think of David as a little bit of Heaven that I carry with me always. God has used the GriefShare program to help me develop a more “eternal” perspective and I want to help others in grief find hope.”
GriefShare is a non-denominational program that addresses the complex issues facing the bereaved, from anger and guilt to financial challenges and how grief affects you and your relationships with others. It shares insights from other people also walking through grief, and gives practical advice on coping techniques and what to expect during your journey from mourning to joy.
Brenda Wicker, a participant from the Spring of 2007 had this to say about the GriefShare program: “I thought I had gotten over the stillbirth of our second daughter, but when I became violently ill on the tenth anniversary of her loss it was clear that I needed help to find more peace. GriefShare gave me a safe place to work through the feelings I was having. While I will always have a place in my heart for her, those feelings are no longer raw. Both the support of the members of the group and the content of the course helped immensely.”
The Blanco GriefShare group hosts a candlelight memorial at the end of the fall session, and a balloon release for the spring session. They are also making plans for a Butterfly Release to be held in conjunction with Relay for Life for next spring.
If you, or someone you know, is grieving the loss of a friend or loved one please tell them about GriefShare. The fall session will be held every Tuesday evening from 7-9 PM, September 9 through December 9 at First Baptist Church. You can call the church offices for more information at 830-833-4632, or you may call the Gillis family at 830-833-1407. Other groups all over the country can be found at www.griefshare.org.