Carolyn Collins lost her best friend and high school sweetheart when her husband Eric Collins died suddenly at age 60 last October.
“He had basically never been sick a day of his life. He literally died in my arms,” she said. “It was pretty devastating because I felt so lost at times. I didn’t really want to function or live this life.”
But Collins found a glimpse of hope through the Grief Recovery Workshop at Southeast Christian Church.
A friend, Vanta Lewis, who had attended the workshop after losing her husband, Morris Lewis, pushed Collins to attend, even though she had no interest in going.
"I told her, 'If you don't like it you can smack me,'" Lewis said with a laugh.
Collins is glad she listened to Lewis, and she ended up taking the entire workshop twice.
“I found out I’m not by myself when it comes to grief,” she said. “You will never ever get over losing your loved one. What you learn to do is live with it.”
Collins, Lewis and two other friends, Pat Whiting and Karen Thompson, all attended the grief workshop at Southeast, and now the four are beginning a grief ministry at St. Stephen Church, their home church in West Louisville.
"I knew that it was missing from my church," Lewis said. "I know that so many people in our community our hurting. There are a whole lot of widows that are grieving."
Lewis first discovered Southeast's grief ministry in 2011 through an Internet search after her husband's death.
"It helped me tremendously. It put perspective on things as far as me learning how to deal with what I was going through," Lewis said. "I was suffering with depression and I really did not know about depression because I had never been depressed."
St. Stephen will begin its grief ministry with a one-day Holiday Grief Workshop on Nov. 19.
Southeast plans Holiday Grief Workshops
The holidays are an especially difficult time for those dealing with loss, and Southeast’s grief ministry will hold its annual Holiday Grief Workshop on Nov. 6 at the Indiana Campus and Nov. 12 at the Blankenbaker Campus.
The one-night holiday workshop includes a group discussion as well as tips and strategies for making it through the difficult holiday season and finding joy and meaning in life.
"Even though we won’t be as elaborate as Southeast, we'll still be able to help people in our community," Lewis said.