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Grappling with grief

Bob and Lecia Baas of Alexandria are facilitating the GriefShare support group in Alexandria. The next session begins in January. (Contributed)

At an unimaginable time, when a person has likely never felt so alone, there’s a local resource available to work on moving from mourning to joy.

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Helen Brunkow, Facilitator and ChaplainGriefShare is a grief recovery support group.

It’s a local support group that offers 15 weekly sessions. Each includes videos featuring pastors, counselors and grief experts, along with group discussion and workbook lessons on working through grief.

Bob and Lecia Baas of Alexandria have invested in providing a safe place to coordinate and facilitate the GriefShare group meetings.

They both know the depth of losing a loved one. Bob lost his wife of 44 years to Alzheimer’s and Lecia’s husband of nearly 20 years committed suicide.

Lecia said, “Grief is different for every person and every situation is unique. Whether you’ve lost a child or a sister or a spouse, parent, grandparent or friend, the GriefShare sessions cover every situation. It’s an amazing program.”

The program covers a range of topics from being stuck in grief to the top 20 lessons on grief.

“GriefShare covers absolutely everything that a person who’s grieving goes through, everything imaginable,” Lecia said.

Helen Brunkow is also a facilitator. She’s a chaplain and works with several grief programs in the area.

‘EVERY ONE IS WELCOME’ GriefShare is a national program and it’s biblically-based.

“However, anyone can come in. If they’re not really in tune to that portion of it, they can set that aside and they’ll still glean so much from what’s in the program. Everyone is welcome,” Lecia said.

Currently, GriefShare meets Tuesday nights at 6:45 p.m. at Compassion Center in Alexandria, located at 821 6th Avenue East, next to B&J Auto.

They’ve worked over the last year to remodel the meeting space and it’s become a cozy setting that everyone can come into and feel comfortable.

“We decided we wanted to do this at a separate location and make it open to all denominations. And it works,” Lecia said.

They held their first session in April and have since graduated three GriefShare classes of about 17 people total.

“The classes are typically small because you want it to be an intimate setting and trust each other. They’re talking about some pretty intimate things and it’s all confidential,” Lecia said.

After about the third week, people start to bond and help each other, Lecia said. “It’s a healthy step forward.”

The Baases are volunteers and they’re trained to facilitate the GriefShare sessions.

“Before the first session, we were so nervous, but it turned out to be just beautiful. That’s what keeps us going,” Lecia said. “We’ve seen amazing transformations.

“You know, it can be scary to walk in [to a support group] and think, ‘Oh, do I really need this? Do I really want to talk about it?’ We remember how it felt. You feel so raw and it can be scary to be there.”

Bob said with a nod, “It takes a very courageous person to take that first step. As lonesome, dark and dismal as it seems after the loss, you can see there’s light and there’s love and there’s hope. We just want to show other people that.”

The next round of GriefShare begins in January. Anyone is welcome to come to the current meetings on Tuesdays.

SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS Lecia and Bob said they know first-hand that for those who have recently lost a loved one, they may be dreading the holidays.

GriefShare has that covered.

They’re offering a special “Surviving the Holidays” session on Friday, December 6 at 6 p.m. at Grace Church in Alexandria.

The session will include dinner, a video, discussion, dessert and some holiday music.

The event is free, but registration should be made by November 25.

To register call (320) 455-2856 and leave a message on how many will attend. To learn more about GriefShare, call Lecia Baas at (320) 219-2063 or visit

“There’s comfort in other people and support,” Lecia said.

Bob added, “People need people who care.”

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133