Sherry Rowe and Debbie White

Sherry Rowe and Debbie White co-facilitate Southeast’s Grief Recovery Workshop. 

Sherry Rowe and Debbie White both live with the pain of losing a daughter.

Rowe’s daughter died in a car accident when she was 16 in 2003, and White’s daughter was murdered at 26 in 2005.

As facilitators of the Grief Recovery Workshop, both women use their own experiences with grief to help others dealing with the loss of loved one.

The Grief Recovery Workshop is a nine-week, video-based class that incorporates group discussions, recovery hints and light homework to help people find ways to cope with grief.

“It’s so sweet to see how much healing takes place in just nine weeks,” Rowe said. “Some who could only cry can smile and laugh by the end of the workshop.”

The next workshop begins Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m., and will be held in FH 111 at Southeast Christian Church’s Blankenbaker Campus.

“People who are grieving think what they are going through is unique--or they might think they are going crazy--but when they go to the group, they find out other people are experiencing the same things,” White said. “It’s such a relief for them to know what they are going through is normal.”

Everyone experiences grief in different ways, but White said it often has physical symptoms such as extreme exhaustion, an inability to concentrate, loss of appetite and insomnia.

White added it’s usually best to attend the workshop at least three to six months after losing a loved one because it’s often difficult to focus while in the early stages of grief.

“Grief is a roller coaster of emotions … but we’re going to help you to walk through it,” White said. “We won’t go over it, under it or around it--we’re going to walk through it.”

The workshop includes light homework assignments such as writing a list of your blessings. Rowe and White also encourage workshop participants to find healthy outlets for grief, such as creating a scrapbook or serving others.

Rowe compared grief to an open, gaping wound.

“It gradually heals, but you still have the scar,” Rowe said. “The scar never goes away just as the memories of your loved one never go away.”

Rowe said some have taken the class after realizing they never grieved a loss they experienced as a child.

“Everyone grieves now or later, but it’s better if you do it now,” White added.

If you try to bury or ignore grief, it will build and manifest itself in other areas of your life.

The workshop is free and open to the public, and White said she never asks people to talk who aren’t comfortable sharing. She added that many people who attend the group end up building connections with people who have experienced similar losses.

“Don’t grieve alone. There’s no need to,” White said. “We’re focused on steps you can take toward healing.”