Christine Smith sharing her story at Night Out With Meaning on March 16th.
By Abby Rolland
“One’s journey through grief is one’s own.”
In an emotional Night Out With Meaning, Christine Smith shared her own journey through grief, and how she used motivation from that grief and desire to co-found The Center for Loss and Bereavement.
After losing her sister and nephew in her early 20s, Christine saw the other members of her family struggle with grief throughout their lives. Feeling unable to talk to them or help them process their grief, Christine began to ponder whether or not there was a place for people struggling with loss to not only find counseling services, but to also share their feelings with others who had experienced loss.
When she met fellow mental health counselor Shirley Elrod, the rest was history. The two created the Center in 2000, and 23 years later, it serves a wide range of individuals and families: children who have lost parents, parents who have lost children, siblings who have lost siblings, and more. It serves as a lifeline for people needing a place to “express and explore those thoughts and emotions associated with the grief process.” The Center meets people wherever and whenever they happen to be on their journey in grief; for some, that means it is months, years, or decades later that they’re willing to talk about their grief with others. The Center provides support regardless of the length of time that someone has experienced grief.
For Christine, her life of meaning with loss has come through service to others through the co-founding of the Center and the giving of her time, talent, treasure, and testimony to helping others process their grief.
Near the end of her talk, she reminded the audience (many of whom are on our grief journeys) that the more you love, the more you grieve. I thought about that in the reverse as well – without grief, there is no love. We all go through grief because if we didn’t, we’d have no care and no love for or from others.
And while grief is gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and can be all-encompassing, I have to wonder that, without it,
What is a life of meaning without love?
Night Out With Meaning has always aimed to inspire, inform, and educate a community of women. For many women who attended Christine Smith’s talk, it also provided a place for comfort - a space for women to find comfort in each other and the knowledge that one is never alone in their grief journeys.