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Couple starts grieving support group for community

| November 6, 2017

COSHOCTON – When someone you love passes away, that first year without them can be one of the worst and darkest days that you have ever known. Birthdays, holidays, family gatherings, and anniversaries are never the same and you feel completely alone and like you can’t move on with your life.

That was certainly the case with Sam and Debbie Bennett, who both lost their spouses not long ago. Sam lost his wife to ovarian cancer six years ago, and Debbie lost her husband two and a half years ago.

The two started a support group for people who have lost loved ones. The group, entitled Healing Hearts Ministry, is a group of individuals who meet the third Saturday of every month at 6 p.m. at New Beginnings Ministries for the purpose of planning outings, sharing victories and defeats, and encouraging each other through their first year without their loved one.

“They’re still going to go through that grief,” said Debbie. “That first year is horrible. I was married 44 years and then one day they’re there and then all of a sudden, they’re gone.”

Both are hoping that the support group will be a place where people who have experienced the same loss can come together to learn to cope.

“They don’t have to talk,” said Sam. “They can just come and listen, play games, and go somewhere together. We just want to take one hour or two hours and give some people some joy. We want to be there to pray for the person and talk to the person if they’re having a bad day.”

Luckily for Sam and Debbie, their story had a happy ending.

Sam and Debbie grew up across the street from each other. Sam’s mother would sometimes go over to see Debbie and her family when times were tough.

“She was instrumental in my family,” said Debbie. “Sometimes we didn’t have food or heat. She was one of those angel faces at my door.”

On Jan. 1, Sam said that God spoke to him and told him it was time to move on and find another partner in life. It wasn’t long after that his mother broke her hip. Debbie went over in March to see how she was doing and Sam’s mother casually mentioned that he was single again. That evening, Sam went to check on his mother and she insisted that he call Debbie. He began messaging her online and then saw her one Friday evening out walking. He sent her a message as soon as he got home and the two met at Tim Hortons that Sunday after church.

Their late-morning Sunday talks at Tim Hortons became a tradition and just four weeks after they met, Sam gave Debbie a necklace. Two months later, the two became engaged at Tim Hortons.

“I had a neighbor who told me, if you ever get to that point where you want to propose to her, tell her, we’ve already walked hundreds of miles together. Would you like to walk the rest of our lives together,” said Sam. “That’s how I proposed to her.”

On Sept. 22, 2017, Sam and Debbie tied the knot.

“We thank God every day for bringing us together,” said Sam. “It’s a second marriage and a second chance for love and happiness.”

Through sharing their own personal grief together over losing a spouse, the two decided they wanted to start a support group for people who may be experiencing the same kind of loss.

“We’re there for everybody,” said Debbie. “You do not have to belong to our church to come. It’s just the place where we decided to have the meetings. We are not there to recruit you to our church. We are there to support everybody. If we can help just one person, let alone a group of people, that would be great. We’ve been there. We know what they’re going through.”

There is no agenda at the meetings, and it’s not just for people who have lost a spouse. It’s for anyone who has experienced any major loss in their lives including the death of a child, parent, etc.

“Men are taught not to cry,” said Debbie. “But it’s okay to cry. We will not judge you or think less of you if you cry. God gave us tears for a reason. He gave us tears for sadness and joy, and sometimes laughter. It’s healthy to cry. God gave us that as a stress relief and an outlet for emotion. It’s okay to cry. We’ll cry right along with them.”

If there is a need, Sam said he would like to start a Sunday School class based on the support group. Both agreed that they are not professional counsellors and can never answer the big questions like why the death occurred, especially a child, but that they will be there to support each other as much as they can.

“How many times have you heard people say, well God needed another angel,” said Debbie. “But that doesn’t bring your child back. We would like people in this community to know that there’s a place in this community for help, comfort, and healing.”

Sam and Debbie hope that people can meet at other places in the community as well.

“This is an opportunity for people to come once a month and get around like-minded people,” said Sam. “Being a Christian for 47 years, it’s definitely helped. But you still went through that grief. You walked that ladder, you took that step, but it was still really hard.”

However, both agreed that having God in their lives has been a comfort to them.

“Having God there, having that comfort, that promise He gave our spouses of eternal life, it’s huge,” said Debbie. “We know that we’ll see them again one day.”

Healing Hearts Ministry is about helping people see the Light at the end of the tunnel.

“You can find something good in every single day,” said Debbie. “God is there. There is life, and there is a light.”

“There’s a light and it’s Jesus,” said Sam. “With God, all things are possible and we’re living proof. There is life after losing a spouse.”

For more information on the support group, contact Sam at 740-502-4735 or Debbie at 740-610-6907.

Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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