Bill and Lois Wolf were married for 63 years, and when Lois died in February, Bill’s first thought was that he wanted to go with her.
“She didn’t die,” said Wolf, 89. “She went to heaven.”
And Wolf wanted to be there with her.
Wolf found help sorting out those and other feelings through Southeast Christian Church’s Grief Recovery Workshop, a video-based class that incorporates group discussions, recovery hints and light homework assignments to help people understand and cope with grief.
“I would recommend the workshop to anyone who has lost a loved one,” Wolf said. “It made me realize I wasn’t by myself in my grief.”
Wolf attended the workshop with his daughter, Lori Lubker.
Lubker said she felt exhausted and her mind was foggy following her mother’s death.
“Grief has a physical side to it that I didn’t realize,” Lubker said. “Knowing that we weren’t going crazy is something that helped us through the process.”
The next workshop will be held Tuesday, Sept. 10 through Nov. 5, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in ATCR 200 at Southeast’s Blankenbaker Campus. It is free and open to the public, and childcare is available.
While they were enrolled in the workshop, Wolf’s grandson, and Lubker’s nephew, died unexpectedly of heart failure at age 24.
“You feel so empty and lost and lonely—and questioning everything—and it really gave us a sense of hope and an action plan for dealing with grief,” Lubker said. “It let us know that it was OK to feel what we were feeling.”
Lois Wolf died after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“Lois was one of the best Christians I’ve ever known,” Wolf said.
The Wolfs, who met while taking a ballroom dancing class at the YWCA in 1954, volunteered at Southeast for many years as decision guides and in the welcome center. They also did hospital visitations.
“We loved working in the church,” Wolf said. “We put God first in everything, and we instilled that in our three kids.”
Wolf remembered a time during a seniors’ potluck when retired Southeast Senior Minister Bob Russell sat down with a slice of apple pie and said, “This is the best apple pie I’ve ever had. Who made this?”
Lois smiled and said it was hers, though she actually purchased it at Sam’s Club.
Afterward she was distraught.
“I lied to Bob Russell,” she said.
She worried about that lie for a week until she could confess to Russell.
“She loved us,” Lubker said. “She was definitely a momma bear that would protect us. She always sacrificed everything for us. She just did everything she could to make us happy.”
Wolf said that the workshop prompted attendees not to get stuck in their grief.
“We took purposeful actions to remember and treasure the funeral, the process … and not just put those away in a closet,” Lubker said. “It helped us deal with it when we didn’t want to deal with it.”
Wolf and Lubker created a scrapbook together.
“Everybody’s grief is different, and there’s not a timeframe,” Wolf added. “Grief gets easier, but it lasts forever.”
But ultimately the workshop helps people focus on the hope found in Jesus.
“God is not wanting us to go through this alone,” Lubker said. “He has experienced grief. He knows how we feel, and He wants us to lean upon Him. He wants us to feel His love and feel His comfort.”
Wolf struggles with feelings of loneliness but tries to exercise and stay busy. He talks to God daily.
“If you lean on God, He will help you get through anything,” Wolf said.