Grief occurs in response to the loss of someone or something, and it is important to acknowledge and allow the grief to happen because it promotes the healing process.

To help those who have experienced a loss, the Destin United Methodist Church Stephen Ministers will hold an introductory meeting for a new grief support group at 2 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Destin Life Center building. The one-hour meeting will discuss the six-week course and answer any questions. The group begins at 2 p.m. Sept. 19, also in the Life Center.

The attempt to return to the routines of one’s life after facing a significant loss is no small challenge. The group will recognize the need to grieve and the need to slow down and take it easy. One day at a time is not just a cliché, it is a guiding principle for those facing loss. Readjusting after a significant loss is nothing less than beginning again … again. The normal has been taken away and the new normal is both frightening and foreboding.

Tom Timothy, Stephen Minister leader of the grief group, told The Log the main objective of the group is to let those attending know they are not alone and understand the feelings they have are quite normal.

“We try to help them identify and express these difficult and painful feelings,” he said. “We help them identify and acknowledge specific feelings and provide an environment for healthy expression.”

Other Stephen Ministers sharing the workload are Joy Segno, Carolyn Trimble and Judy Freed. Ken Gay is overall Stephen leader, and Frank Dole, chaplain at the Emerald Coast Hospice, is mentor of the group. Dole provided the workbook used by the group and continues to provide guidance.

The first step in the grief process is to give yourself permission to grieve.

“In our current culture there is pressure to either not grieve or to put some time limit on it,” Timothy said. “Grief is normal, natural and necessary.”

Since men die earlier, most who attend the group are women who have suffered the loss of a spouse.

“Widowers are generally not open to discussing their inner feelings, the male macho problem,” Timothy said.  “In our first group of 17 there were two men.  One shared easily; the other not so much.”

Timothy said the feedback from the first group was very positive — they bonded well and at least four indicated that they would like to attend the new class.

“After the six weeks are finished we still meet as a continuing group every two weeks. No agenda other than to discuss progress and share with each other.”

The outcome the Stephen Ministers look for is the reconciliation of ones grief to a new “normal” — a new way of life.

“It is difficult and there is no timetable,” Timothy said. “At the end of the six weeks we hope to have given the class an understanding of the grief process and some tools to use in going forward.”

If you feel that the grief group could be helpful to you, please let the Stephen Ministers know so they can have a place for you. For more information, contact Tom Timothy at or call 850-974-3373.