Author to discuss grief and how friends should respond

March 6, 2013 

Central Baptist Church will hold its annual Spring Dinner on Thursday. The event is designed to uplift women of all ages.

Ladies from the church will decorate the tables and attendees will be asked to vote for their favorite decorations. Each table decoration will be centered around a Bible verse theme.

Doors open at 5 p.m., and the meal will be served by the men of Central Baptist Church starting at 6:30 p.m.

Entertainment will include musical selections by Central Baptist Church member Deborah Cusack. The speaker for the evening will be Erica McNeal.

Shirley Jones, one of the organizers of the annual event, said McNeal is a military wife who lives with her family in Florida. McNeal is the author of several books and recently spoke at Robins Air Force Base.

Her most recent book is “Good Grief” in which McNeal draws on the pain in her own life to give advice about what to say and what not to say to someone experiencing hurt or tragedy. McNeal is a three-time cancer survivor and has experienced the loss of five children: two miscarriages of three children, an adoption that was canceled after the child had already been placed with them and a child who died shortly after birth.

She is the mother of two children, one biological and one adopted. While “Good Grief” covers all situations of hurt, the book devotes chapters specifically to cancer and the loss of a child.

McNeal called “Good Grief” a resource guide that fills the gap between those who are hurting and those who want to help.

“When people are going through a tragedy,” McNeal said, “many times people say things where the intent is good, but the words hurt. We had these said to us by people that loved us, that were part of our support system.”

McNeal cited comments such as “blessing in disguise” and “everything happens for a reason” as things not to say.

Deep in your own grief, hurtful comments just compound the misery and can even fester.

“Part of the mission of the book is to look at the things that we have just gotten accustomed to saying when something happens; the other part is to help others find the right words,” McNeal said.

Jones emphasizes that the night is open to any woman in the community.

“Come join us for an evening of sharing with friends, sharing thoughts to help others, and opening our hearts and minds to ways God would have us help others,” Jones said.

Tickets are on sale at the church for $20 each. “Good Grief” will be on sale during the evening and is also available through Amazon.com. McNeal’s book “The Staycation Jar,” which is a guide for having fun vacations and family time without spending a fortune, is also available on Amazon. Thursday through Saturday, “The Staycation Jar” will be available for download on Amazon.com for free. For more information about the Spring Dinner at Central Baptist Church, call 953-9319.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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