Awakened, Grief Support Group

For many years I’ve had a passion for education and supporting people affected by cancer. Quite a few years ago, my wife died of breast cancer. Three years later, my son died at the age of 14 with lymphoma. As I worked through the devastation of these losses, I began working through my grief and attending several support groups. I attended these classes in Massillon and Canton, Ohio at the cancer center here. In addition, I have also attended the Compassionate Friends group and now have several certificates.

Then, I was inspired by God to start a grief support group, and I started my first class 20 years ago. Needless to say, I am still going strong. My classes are open to anyone, no matter what religion or stage of grief they're experiencing, and the group is free of charge.

Due to my experiences, I have developed a deeper passion and need to help others that are in need and let them know they’re not alone. My support group, Awakened, is held at my church. Each of my classes consists of no more than six people and lasts for eight weeks from 7-8:30 p.m. On one occasion, I had a total of nine people in the class; however, I quickly found out that was too many for the time allotted. As a result, I keep the group small so everyone can feel heard and all needs are addressed.

Each week, we experience a range of emotions. In my classes, we cry, hug, laugh, and let each other know that no one has to go through this alone. In addition, everything in the class is confidential and at the conclusion of all sessions, each person is given a certificate of completion signed by myself and the pastor, after completing the eight weeks. It really is rewarding to know I have impacted someone’s life, and helped them through the grief cycle. Wherever the Lord leads me, I will go and teach.

After I attended the lay ministry training offered by Our Journey of Hope at Friendship Baptist Church in Massillon, Ohio, I realized just how helpful this would be for me in my support group. I learned to have a more listening heart when dealing with people that have a cancer diagnosis, and I learned there are many types of cancer. This is very helpful for me to know the different names and treatments, and I am now better versed on the terminology of cancer. Reverend Percy McCray keeps the training very interesting on such a serious subject.

Willie Lemon

Greater Bethel Apostolic Church

2335 15th Street, S. W. Canton, Ohio