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Pahrump GriefShare going to online meetings in face of Coronavirus

With the novel coronavirus pandemic spreading all across the globe, the world is in a state of continual flux and change but one thing that does not change is the harsh reality that people pass away and those left behind must deal with the pain of losing a loved one.

For those who finds themselves lost in the sadness and anguish of grief when a loved one leaves this earth, there is hope. The local chapter of GriefShare is there to help and though the COVID-19 outbreak has compelled the group to alter how it goes about conducting its program, residents can still reach out and find the comfort of support from others who have experienced or are experiencing those same distressing, heart-wrenching emotions.

The Pahrump GriefShare chapter was formed in mid-2015 by local resident Pete Giordano and over the years, it has had an incredible impact in the lives of those who had been suffering from grief. Nearly 150 program participants have been able to reclaim their joy in living and lift themselves out of the pits of misery so they could move on with their lives.

GriefShare is an international organization with chapters all around the world. The non-denominational program consists of a 13-week course of meetings, all of which are self-contained sessions, allowing participants to join in at any point. Meetings consist of a video, group discussion and a personal workbook that helps the participants track their emotional journeys from mourning to joy.

Each cycle of GriefShare finds its completion with a Celebration of Life get-together filled with positivity and laughter, along with shared memories and yes, some tears shed. At its heart though, the Celebration of Life highlights exactly what GriefShare aims to do, restore happiness to those who thought they might never smile or laugh again.

Earlier this year, Giordano had suffered from an episode of congestive heart failure and though he was in declining health, he was absolutely delighted to be able to join the group for their most recent Celebration of Life, held Saturday, March 7.

“My wife passed away in 2015 and that’s when I brought GriefShare here. We had also lost our 20-year-old son in 1985. But I found GriefShare through my daughter. I stayed with my daughter for about three months after my wife passed and finally, after weeks of despair and crying continuously, she suggested us going to a grief support group. We went to Green Valley Baptist Church and it happened to be GriefShare,” Giordano told the crowd of more than 30 residents who had gathered for the celebration. “It did such great things for us and everybody there, that’s why I decided this community needed something like that. And here we are! I just want to thank all of you.”

It turns out that was one of the last times the members of GriefShare would see Giordano. He passed away on Sunday, March 29. Those who knew him well say though they will miss him, they are happy he is now with his lord and savior as well as his son and wife, whose passing actually inspired him to found the local GriefShare chapter nearly five years ago.

That in no way means that the local chapter of GriefShare will be disbanded. Former GriefShare participant and now GriefShare facilitator Marcia Savage is now taking over the lead role for the program, helping keep alive the legacy Giordano left behind.

As COVID-19 continues raging through the country, she certainly has some challenges to face in carrying on the program but the knowledge of the amazing impact the group has on the lives of those immersed in grief is more than enough to motivate her.

“I was so impressed with Pete, and all the facilitators, and the GriefShare program. They were all such an inspiration for my progress in my grieving my second husband, in October of 2015, when I first joined the group,” Savage told the Pahrump Valley Times. “After a year in the program, I was already thinking of helping the group and Pete asked me to be a facilitator in May, 2017.

“Pete will always be remembered as the one who brought this amazing group to Pahrump, with his daughter, Ronnie, and God’s connection with the Central Valley Baptist Church,” Savage said, referring to the local church that has generously provided a venue for the group’s meetings. “He also will be so greatly missed at every Celebration of Life, as he would sing and play his guitar in such a loving, fun and happy way to finish up each 13-week session. Pete was so devoted to this group and made it grow into such a successful tool for people grieving here in Pahrump. I am too dedicated to keep this wonderful program going as Pete intended it to be.

“We loved you dearly, Pete, and joyful that you are finally together with Ann, and your son, dancing and singing in heaven. May God Bless and hold up Ronnie, and comfort her in her journey, wherever it may take her.”

“Pete was an amazing man who helped so many people,” said Sharon Colt, another GriefShare facilitator. “His legacy will live on through his facilitators and all the many people he helped find their way. The love they feel for him will live on. It was amazing to hear the stories of people who no longer wanted to live coming back to their God and finding hope in the midst of their pain.”

Because of current restrictions on gatherings of 10 or more people, the memorial service to honor Giordano must be postponed. Notice will be given once a date for Giordano’s memorial is determined.

“We are going to continue the group by Zoom, meeting on Saturdays at our regular time, 1 p.m.,” Savage added. “All participants need to get is the phone number and an ID pin before calling in on Saturdays. The number will be determined that day with a pin number and all will get it by email or phone call. It will change every week so we have to be able to contact everybody by phone or email. Participants can call any one of the leaders/facilitators and they should have our numbers.”

Savage can be reached at 775-253-0201 and Colt can be reached at 775-622-5494.

For more information on GriefShare visit www.griefshare.org

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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