Concord United Methodist introduces new grief recovery program


Most of us don’t like it, but we roll with it.

Some changes, however, are bigger than others. If they’re dramatic enough, and involve significant loss, they can result in sadness, depression and grief.

“Anything we treasure and love that we lose can bring us grief,” local expert Joy Gaertner said. “There are all different kinds of losses — death of a spouse, a pet, divorce, retirement, etc.”

Other traumatic changes include personal injury or illness, dismissal from work, change in health of family member, pregnancy, change in financial statis and death of a close friend.

“Grief recovery gives us an action plan that allows us to move beyond our losses,” Gaertner said. “We all know life turns on a dime. What do we do with the pain that’s caused by our loss?”

Concord United Methodist Church, 11020 Roane Drive in Farragut, is offering “Make Peace With Your Past Using the Grief Recovery Method,” a six-week course from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Room 293.

Though it began Oct. 17, those wishing to still participate can start on the second week, Tuesday, Oct. 24. Classes are taught by Gaertner, a certified grief recovery specialist. Cost is $129 for the course and $15 for the book.

“Grief looks different to different people,” Gaertner said. “We have a teakettle inside of us. We stuff things down and then we explode. At the same time, people are given ‘advice,’ myths such as ‘just get over it,’ ‘be strong,’ ‘replace the loss’ and ‘grieve alone.’

“In the classes we talk about the things we use to cover up the pain,” she added. “Drugs and alcohol, being a shopaholic or workaholic, using sex, a relationship, exercise — anything to run away from the pain.”

In addition to personal pain, businesses are spending millions of dollars in hidden costs due to unresolved grief, she said. 

“People bring their grief to work with them and it results in lack of productivity; accidents due to distraction, sick days, not to mention the substance addiction unresolved grief causes, which leads to more money being spend by companies for rehab. Grief Recovery is a missing piece of the puzzle to the healing of our hearts, our families, our communities, nation and world.”

Knoxville resident DeAnna Sampson took a class taught by Gaertner several years ago.

“I moved here about eight years ago,” Sampson said. “At the time I was going through a divorce and was told I should attend Cokesbury [United Methodist Church] because they had a grief recovery program. I met Joy and went through the Divorce Recovery program there. It was very, very beneficial.

“Even though I went through the program quite a few years after my divorce,” Sampson added, “there were still a few things I wanted to work through. Also, I wanted to be able to say she and her [grief] program have helped me. If I were going to refer a person to the program, I wanted to know it would help.

“I found that a lot of my sadness and pain [was] when I got very emotional,” Sampson added. “It was when I thought about how my divorce had affected my boys, rather than the loss of my marriage. I felt I had let my boys down because I was not providing them the family unit I always dreamed they would have. That’s where I need to continue to work. I didn’t know it was that. I thought it was the loss of my 18-year-marriage, but it wasn’t.”

Sampson said grief recovery is a journey. “Now I have a much better idea of where I’ve worked through and where I need to work in the future,” she said.

Gaertner said she experienced grief in her own life.

“Some people get angry, or experience depression, suicide or cancer,” she said. “For me, it imploded and came out in cancer. We stuff it down and it can result in cutting, heart attacks or cancer. Others can get angry, violent, sad or anxious. I had no tools to walk out of the darkness that loss caused in my life.

“Grief recovery has given me the tools to walk out of it,” she added. “When we are able to heal the hurts of our hearts on the inside, one person at a time will get rid of their anger. That will bring peace into their relationships ... and their world.”

To register, go to