With the delayed onset of the pandemic, South Rock counseling minister Rik Alspaw expects to see more participation in the church’s next GriefShare session in the fall.

Outside of services offered by The Rock Counseling, Derby’s South Rock Christian Church has participated in a nationwide program – GriefShare – with a similar mission for more than five years now.

“GriefShare is a program that is designed to help people walk through a grieving journey of about every kind. The commonality is everybody that will be there in that group has some kind of loss they’re processing; generally, that’s the death of a family member,” said Rik Alspaw, director of The Rock Counseling and counseling minister at South Rock. “That becomes a safe place because everybody’s walking in some measure of pain.”

Typically, GriefShare sessions are hosted by South Rock in the spring and fall, with the next 10-week installment slated to start at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 9.

Open to anyone in the community, not just church members, Alspaw said the GriefShare groups are generally small by nature (between five to 12 people each). While the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic minimized numbers in the spring, Alspaw said he expects that will not be the case in the fall – especially as he has seen more COVID-related discussions in the The Rock Counseling offices.

“I anticipate this fall that we will have some folks that will be mostly COVID informed that will be seeking that support network,” Alspaw said. “There were a ton of families that did not get to have normal funerals. With that in mind, there’s what I would label a lot of delayed grief. I believe we will see that more so in the months to come.”

“People are going to be looking for platforms to process everything from, ‘hey, I didn’t get to have a graduation reception,’ to ‘my family member died and we didn’t even have any kind of memorial service,’” Alspaw said. “I anticipate that being something that, as people maybe in the months to come are facing losses where there may be an actual memorial service, it will be a reminder to them that they were unable to do that during the pandemic.”

Frequent topics of the GriefShare groups include adjusting to a family member no longer being around, Alspaw said, with the program intended to provide a safe space for attendees to say, “hey, I’m still struggling.” The program helps with the grieving process through video teachings, workbooks and groups discussions.

Hosted frequently by churches, Alspaw noted GriefShare is not an official ministry of the church – but the benefits are clear. Given the loss associated with the coronavirus pandemic, providing issues that some may not have been able to fully process, Alspaw believes the GriefShare program can be a good outlet for support.

“My hope would be people would see it as a setting where they can process things that may have happened a year or more ago and it’s still valuable to come together and learn through that,” Alspaw said.

For more information on GriefShare or to find other nearby sessions starting sooner, visit

Kelly Breckunitch is the managing editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him at for questions and news tips. 


Managing Editor

Kelly Breckunitch is the managing editor for the Derby Informer. Contact him at for questions and news tips.