Last updated: October 25. 2013 5:22PM - 944 Views
Billy Cannada Staff Writer

Pictured is local resident Joy Gilbert, who has been part of Haven of Hope Ministries' widow support group in Easley. Gilbert leads music at the organizations' annual conference.
Pictured is local resident Joy Gilbert, who has been part of Haven of Hope Ministries' widow support group in Easley. Gilbert leads music at the organizations' annual conference.
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EASLEY – Melanie Riddle’s husband Thomas, a local pastor at an Upstate church, was just 40-years-old when he died of a sudden heart attack.

Such a tragedy and all the new struggles that lay ahead were almost too much to face alone, she said.

That, in part, is where Haven of Hope Ministries, a faith based organization aiming to support widows, was initiated.

The ministry hosts annual conferences for local widows and provides support groups in various cities, including Easley.

Riddle, the Director of Haven of Hope Ministries said the idea to begin support groups after Haven of Hope Ministries began conducting conferences in 2011.

“This is just spiritual and friendship related support,” Riddle said. “Through the groups, they see how God can help them with facing the grief, and they learn things they can do, based on scripture, to heal.”

Allie Young lost her husband Chuck after nearly four decades of marriage. Young found support in one of these groups.

“When you become widowed it is the worst pain,” Young said. “You just feel lost. Not only do you lose your life partner, but you’ve built a life together so you lose your life as well. You have to learn to regain it. It’s such a long process.

“Without Christ, there’s just no way to do it,” she said.

Riddle said the faith-based groups include a time of scripture-based devotion, music and fellowship.

“Being in a group of peers, these women are able to identify more closely with things they face,” Riddle said. “People don’t think about all new challenges and struggles you face being a new widow.”

Young said the groups provide much needed friendship and encouragement.

“Every month we have devotion and we talk about our struggles,” Young said. “We try to come up with some solutions. When you have a network of widows to depend on you learn things you didn’t know. You how to trim bushes, how to mow the lawn—you just learn the type of things you didn’t have to know before.”

Young said losing her spouse was the worst pain she has experienced

“When you first lose your spouse you are in shock,” Young said. “You really think the thoughts you’re having are crazy thoughts. Once you start talking to other widows, you realize that it’s a normal process of grieving because—although all of our circumstances are different—they’re still so similar.”

Young said a group like this provides a way to reach out to other women who are going through the same loss.

“When you see that people have been through what you’re going through, you are able to support other widows coming in,” Young said. “I think God allows us to go through something like this so that we can have that kind of compassion for others.”

Haven of Hope currently hosts four support groups in four cities.

The group in Easley meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Capt. Kimberly Hampton Library, located at 304 Biltmore Road at 10:30 a.m.

The Belton group meets the second Saturday of every month at the Belton Library, located at 91 Breazeale Street at 10:00 a.m. A group in Greer meets the fourth Saturday of every month at International Cathedral of Prayer, located at 100 Davis Avenue, at 10:30 a.m. A group in Seneca meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at One Community Church, located at 15550 Wells Hwy., at 6:30 p.m.

“We’re not in this for any other reason other than we want to support people who are going through the things we have been through,” Riddle said. “We have received comfort from God and we want to share that with others. We believe life can be good again.”

For more information, visit www.havenofhopesc.com.

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