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Spouse, Parent, Child Grief Support Debuts at Roxborough Church

Earl Cunningham and Carol Spangenberg present Grief Share at Leverington Presbyterian.

Carol Spangenberg knows through experience that grief has no timeline. With the introduction of GriefShare at , Spangenberg offers a group-support environment for those in mourning.

"There is a group there out there for people who've lost their spouse, child, parent or friend. It doesn't matter if it's new grief or several years old. We understand and we're there," she said.

Led by widowers Spangenberg and Ed Cunningham, the 13-week group counseling session starts Feb. 8 at the Roxborough church and weekly will allow mourners to share their experiences, watch subject-specific DVDs and borrow reading materials.

Spangenberg, who also coordinates Roxborough's July 4th festivities, lost her husband four years ago. Outside of individual counseling, she struggled to find a grief group with a spiritual bent.

"It was hard for me, because I'm 58... and I'm the only one of my friends who has lost a husband. People just don't understand," she said.

She lacked that shared experience until she discovered GriefShare, a national program, at Hope Community Church in King of Prussia.

"The biggest thing there is understanding," she said. "One of things I found is a place that I can just talk about it and get people who know what I'm going through."

Her daughter also attended the session last fall, as she also lost her husband in a car accident, in addition to her father.

"She didn't want to go and face it at first, but after a few weeks, she really needed to go," she said.

Many people in the King of Prussia group recently lost loved ones, so Spangenberg found herself reassuring their feelings. Locally, she and Cunningham want to do the same.

"After going through this, I saw there was just a need for it in Roxborough. There's nothing Christian based," she said. "I knew of several people who have expressed interest."

Almost eight years after her husband's initial diagnosis, Spangenberg feels more comfortable talking about grief. "God puts things in our life that he wants us to do, and he wanted me to share the experience."

GriefShare runs Wednesdays (7 to 8:30 p.m.) at Leverington Presbyterian Church, 6301 Ridge Ave. There is a $10 workbook donation. People may register by calling the church office: 215-482-0293.

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