After 12 years, Hastings Area Grief Coalition facilitators will end their connectionIn 2000, a group of interested people, including Marty McNunn and Lyla Davies, wanted to start a bereavement group in Hastings.
In 2000, a group of interested people, including Marty McNunn and Lyla Davies, wanted to start a bereavement group in Hastings.
Twelve years later, the Hastings Area Grief Coalition still meets weekly, still reaches out to help those in the grief recovery process. McNunn and Davies have remained very active through the years. They announced they will end their involvement at the end of the year. The group is not ending.
“It is time; it has been a good run for Lyla and me,” said McNunn, who has been the leader and facilitator. “It is time for someone else to take the reins.”
The initial group visited another meeting in the Twin Cities and developed their planning committee to determine the needs and wants of a Hastings group.
“We would come under the umbrella of that Twin Cities group,” said McNunn. They also had a mentor in Marge Heeguard, who offered her guidance and support.
Actually, the group used the curriculum that Heeguard has developed. That became the guide for the first year, said McNunn.
The first meeting was held in November of 2000. It continues to meet weekly year round, which is considered unusual, said McNunn. Some groups only meet for a short period, then break.
“To be most successful, we decided to meet weekly,” she said, “every Thursday.”
And McNunn became the coordinator, the leader, who developed the weekly programs, usually with a presenter.
‘The presenters would offer topics dealing with grief and with grief recovery,” she said.
The presenters included area pastors, funeral home directors, social workers and grief recovery specialists. Through the years, some have become “regulars" and new presenters have been added. McNunn, a certified grief recovery specialist, has presented different topics. People who have attended the meetings have also stepped up to tell their stories at meetings.
They have one major goal in mind, said McNunn.
“They are for anyone dealing with the significant loss due to death,” she said. “What it has evolved into is meeting more for spousal, parental and sibling loss.”
Those dealing with the loss of a child are usually referred to the Compassionate Friends group, and those dealing with death by suicide or murder are referred to groups which are better able to help them.
“Our theme is about what grief is and how it affects you and your life,” said McNunn.
There are general topics about how to cope. There are personal stories as well as experts in different areas such as depression.
When asked about how long the group has been meeting – did it surprise her? McNunn smiled and said, “We have never considered not meeting. There is a need.”
The meetings stress confidentiality – everything said in the meeting stays there. There is no judgment.
Some who attend the meetings come for a short period, some as long as six months. Each grieves differently, McNunn said.
Brochures about the Grief Coalition are available through the churches, funeral homes, the Hastings Area Senior Center. Meeting announcements are run in the newspaper.
When the Grief Coalition meetings were first held, the meetings were held in different churches, but did not provide consistency. When the Hastings Area Senior Center moved downtown, Laurie Thrush, center program coordinator, offered the use of a room for meetings. It worked well.
The Senior Center moved into the Tilden Community Center last year, and the Grief Coalition moved with it. Again, McNunn and Davies have only praise for the space.
Both have, and continue to have a deep satisfaction about their involvement.
“When someone tells you about how it has helped them, that’s what it is all about,” said McNunn.
“It is so warm and inviting here – that’s what we strive for,” said Davies.
As the two “end their run,” McNunn is seeking several people who would consider being the coordinators/
facilators for the Grief Coalition. She would be a mentor during a transition and help the people.
Anyone interested can contact her at 437-6817.