Monday, March 4, 2019

Oklahoma GriefShare giving what those left behind

A look at suicide: Van Buren’s GriefShare program offers support

Booneville Democrat
By Scott Smith / Times Record
Posted Mar 3, 2019

An individual’s suicide can be such an unpredictable, hard-hitting shock to that person’s loved ones, often causing an uncomfortable, long-lasting cocktail of feelings for those left behind, according to one area individual.

When someone loses a relative or friend to suicide, that person can be overwhelmed by feelings of confusion, sadness, guilt, anger and more, said LaToya Shepherd, an outreach pastor who oversees the GriefShare support program at Heritage Church in Van Buren. The 14-week, faith-based program employs video presentations, testimonies, a workbook and, if the participants are comfortable enough to participate, opportunities to share to help in the healing process, she said.

“There is a lesson that touches upon suicide in this,” Shepherd said of the program, which is held at 3 p.m. Sundays at Heritage Church, 1604 E. Pointer Trail in Van Buren. “And in no way does this lesson condemn the person who committed suicide or the family of that person. Even with the program being Biblically based, the lesson is very helpful and very hopeful. It’s not condemning at all.”

In addition to outlining the GriefShare workbook for participants, Shepherd is able to use her real-life experience to help others cope with their loss and move through the grieving process.

“My former husband tried to commit suicide but wasn’t successful,” she said. “He lived and is now a certified counselor who works in Oklahoma and is helping people.
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