This article is four years in the making. On Dec. 14, 2017, I received the call that no one wants to receive. A detective on the other end of the line informed me that my father died on the sidewalk of a local business near where he lived in Florida. As I was preparing to experience the joy of Christmas with my co-workers at Fitzgibbon Hospital for our annual Christmas Tea, my anticipation of celebration turned to heartache and shock. What complicated my shock even more was that my dad told me the night before, in a phone conversation, that his doctor’s appointment just two days prior had yielded a clean bill of health.
That Christmas in 2017, and all Christmases thereafter, would be different for me and my family. An empty place sat in my heart that my dad’s quiet, humorous personality once filled. After preaching his funeral, working on his estate with attorneys, caring for my family, leading our church’s Christmas Eve Service and going back to my job at Fitzgibbon Hospital, I began to struggle. I saw a counselor and then sought out a support program to aide me in my grief.
There really was not a grief program at the time in Marshall, so I asked Angy Littrell, the Chief Operating Officer for Fitzgibbon Hospital, if I could obtain training to begin a Grief Recovery Program. After her approval, I traveled to the training, which included going through the program myself. I had no idea how much unresolved anger and grief I had in my heart surrounding the death of my dad. This program was a Godsend, and it is provided at no cost to attendees through donations to the Fitzgibbon Mary Montgomery Hospice Memorial Fund.
I learned so much about grief, how it works and how it affected everything in my life. It affected my concentration, my relationships and my desire to move at all. I was stuck, and before Grief Recovery, I didn’t know how stuck I was. I also didn’t know what it would take to move me forward.
The Grief Recovery Program is offered at Fitzgibbon Hospital periodically throughout the year. Sessions in the 8-week course last between an hour and two hours, meeting one night per week. This small investment of time is absolutely transformational. More than 180 people have already been helped by this Grief Recovery Program in Marshall and the surrounding area.
Going through the holidays with an empty chair at the table brings to light the real need to get help. The next class will begin with a free informational meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 10, in the classroom suite on the second floor of Fitzgibbon Hospital. The full grief program begins the following Monday evening at 6 p.m., Jan. 17, in the same location. All costs are underwritten by the Fitzgibbon Mary Montgomery Hospice Memorial Fund, and anyone 18 years of age and older can participate. To find out more, visit www.fitzgibbon.org/grief.