Gaining Permission to Smile Again

(c) by Kathleen Kline

Note: A version of this piece ran May 29th, 2012 in the Tehachapi News, page 14 “Local chapter of GriefShare offers help coping with loss”

Life is a finite, death is part of it, but it is not always easy to deal with.

Deaths are all common, except suicides and the death of a child, Ruthie a GriefShare facilitator said.

Grief, the reaction to a loss, is a “multi-faceted response” to the death of someone you care for and/or have formed a bond with.

Making it through grief and/or recovering from it is sometimes a painful long process, but it does not have to be done alone.

The response to the death of a family member, a friend, a co-worker or anyone else you feel attached to, including a pet, can manifest itself in many ways: emotional, physical, psychological, behavioral, and social.

Yet there are still only five general stages to the grieving process, with no one right way to grieve being a common thread.

Although all who are grieving can experience each of the five stages:

1- Shock and denial

2- Anger

3- Bargaining

4- Depression

5- Acceptance

Sometimes people can get stuck in one stage or the other and GriefShare is here to help get people to the recovery stage.

“They helped me so much when I lost my father,” Pam said.

“We are here to help you go from sorrow to joy,” Ruthie, lead facilitator of the local Tehachapi GriefShare group said.

GriefShare is a completely confidential group, “we all sign confidentiality agreements,” Ruthie said, so those who come feel safe to cry, if they need to, express emotions without worrying about the consequences, laugh and bond with others who know how they are feeling and what they are going through.

All of the facilitators of these groups are required to not only have suffered a loss but attend and pass training.

There is support for the griever all year around. GriefShare offers a program that includes 14 weeks of two-hour sessions in which a video is shown, discussion ensues and personal sharing time allotted for.

“Even though we do a 14 week session there is no one time you need to join us nor wait until a new session begins to join us. All of the videos and discussion topics are independent of each other, so please just come any Tuesday night,” Ruthie encourages.

This nondenominational group features the teachings of counselors, leading authors, pastors and other Christian based teachings on the topic of recovery in a non-threatening, non-judgmental setting.

“I have been able to be there when more than one person has said, ‘I never thought I would say that out loud,’” Ruthie, who has been facilitating the Tehachapi group for three years admits.

“It is up to each individual as to when they are ready to deal with a loved one’s death,” Ruthie added. “Each person through the doors is able to gain the permission to smile and laugh again in life.”

“We love hard, hence we grieve hard,” Ruthie said, as she is a 67-year-old surviving sister, mother, daughter and wife, “and that is what brings us all to the GriefShare in our time of need. Whenever it is, even if it is 40 years after the loss.”

Holidays like Memorial Day often bring with it a flooding of memories, some are easy to swallow, some are not. For those that are not GriefShare here to help. It is Free, open to anyone of adult age, (grieving children need a different group) and is it here when you are ready for it.

This a national organization, GriefShare, has local chapters to assists community members to heal from grief. You can find a local GriefShare group by going to and typing your zip code, the city or state you are in, into their search engine and it will help you locate a local gathering.

GriefShare meets in Tehachapi, Calif. Tuesday nights from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m at the Country Oaks Baptist Church located at 20915 Schout Rd. For questions call Ruthie at 822-1379. And for those of you anywhere else in the U.S. please go to and find a location near you.