SUN CITY CENTER – In 1984 Grace Terry suffered three traumatic losses in less than a year. She was suddenly unemployed, suddenly divorced and her mother was killed in a car accident.
“During that time family, friends – even strangers – went out of their way to be kind, loving and caring,” said Terry. “That kindness, love and caring not only helped me survive; it also helped me become a better person.”
The experience made her stronger, yet softer at the same time, she said. She became kinder, more compassionate and resilient.
“Ever since then I’ve done everything possible to pass forward that kindness. That’s why I began offering grief support and grief education services, and founded Grief Cafe.
Terry, 59, recently began offering monthly Grief Cafe gatherings at Sun City Center United Methodist Church, 1210 Del Webb. Blvd. W., and Sun Towers, 101 Trinity Lakes Drive. All South Shore and Sun City Center residents experiencing any form of grief are invited to attend.
As the facilitator, Terry lets folks know that discussing grief and understanding loss – whether personal or professional – is actually healthy. There’s no agenda, no particular action plan or outcome, just a relaxed conversation about loss and grief among the 10 or fewer participants.
“People feel more comfortable talking in smaller groups,” she said.
And comfort is what Grief Cafe is all about.
“The misconception about grief support groups is that the experience is very depressing, that they’re filled with deeply depressed, overwrought people,” Terry said.
“Grief Cafe is a relaxed conversation in a relaxing setting for anyone who wants to know more about health and grief. No one is pressured to talk. They are welcome to come listen and enjoy the refreshments, if they choose.”
Grief Cafe is free, although the Town ‘N Country resident does accept free-will offerings to help defray expenses. Terry said she does this as a community service.
Terry brings 30 years of social work experience to the table, including almost 10 years of private clinical practice; hospice bereavement counseling; substance abuse treatment; crisis intervention and grief education and grief support. She has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor of Arts degree in General Studies from the University of Louisiana.
Terry is the founder of Grief Resolution Resources in Tampa, which provides bereavement care to individuals and small groups and continuing professional education training to health care service providers. Currently she facilitates Grief Cafe gatherings at 11 sites in Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
“It’s by far the most effective thing I’ve done,” Terry said.
Grief support and education have become her passion.
“I believe it’s my purpose, my blessing, my divine calling,” she said. “I have the privilege of being a channel of divine healing and making a positive difference in the world.”
To attend Grief Cafe, email [email protected] or call (727) 487-3207. Reservations are a must.