Offering some sort of grief support has always been on Chris Ketch’s mind.
But as is often the case, the incumbent in the Parish of Kent found many other needs took precedence.
“Grief support was a need I identified fairly early on in my time here,” said Chris. “But other things were a priority.”
Then in 2020, the COVID pandemic hit, and people were introduced to a much different way of grieving — with fewer family members, tiny gatherings, and perhaps no visitation or funeral at all.
“With the pandemic, there wasn’t that opportunity to come together, to cry with each other and share stories,” he said.
After being approached by people within his church and in the community, Chris knew it was time, so in April, during Holy Week no less, he and an ecumenical leadership team launched GriefShare.
It’s a 13-week support group for people processing grief, whether from deaths during the pandemic, or deaths years ago.
“It’s an ongoing need,” said Chris. “It’s good to have it at the best of times. But there are people who grieve for years. They’re still impacted.”
The GriefShare model includes a video that addresses topics surrounding grief, followed by a discussion of the video. A workbook is part of the course, which helps people explore more deeply the issues they are confronting.
“It has been going very well despite the fact that the work of grief can be very challenging,” said Chris.
“The people attending seem to really appreciate the space that has been created to talk about their grief, the fellowship and support they are receiving, and the insights and challenges being presented in the material we are working through.”
The program is free to participants, but donations of $20 to help pay for the workbook are welcome. The parish is paying the balance, with help from a few donors who felt the need was acute.
Chris chose the Targettville Recreation Centre as the venue because it’s a neutral space for gathering. He also wanted it to be ecumenical. One person on the leadership team represents the local Presbyterian church.
Chris has parishioners praying for the group each week, and one who provides snacks during the meeting.
Since the program was launched, he’s heard from many in his community.
“I’ve had people come up to me and thank me. Knowing it’s available is a comfort to them,” he said. “Some say, ‘you may see me there.’”
Chis is hopeful the support group, which has 10 participants this spring, can be offered again in the fall.
“It’s been really good, even for us as facilitators,” he said. “The opportunity to do the work of grieving has been good.”
To learn more about the program, visit GriefShare at www.griefshare.org .
1. The GriefShare wookbook used for the sessions.
2. The Rev. Chris Ketch during a past Diocesan Synod.