Sage Chioma

Losing a loved one, friend or colleague can produce grief that to some can find to be unbearable.

That’s why, the Rev. Keishawn Niblett said, High Ridge Missionary Baptist Church is hosting a Grief and Healing Session this Saturday.

Guest speaker Sage Chioma will facilitate a discussion while counseling those who have experienced losses of all kinds and who continue to deal with mourning, depression, anger, denial and other means. The program at the church, located at 1455 Carver Road in Martinsville, will begin 10 a.m. and is free.

Niblett, who in December became the church’s pastor-elect, said he wanted to reach out to people in the community experiencing unresolved grief.

“It seems to me as though there has been a lot of tragic things happening,” Niblett said. “I know more specifically, sometimes we are prompted to just kind of suppress pain and grief and move on and not really deal with it.

“I’m noticing, even within my own self, it can affect us in so many different ways. I also know that sometimes it impacts the relationships we have with each other as Christians. I’ve been praying, you know, just help us to deal and heal and move forward so we can do greater things and greater works for our community.”

The event also coincides with a time in the year when many people experience seasonal affective disorder, also called “seasonal depression,” and at the cusp of when suicide attempts spike in the spring and summer months.

The idea to bring in a professional such as Chioma of Greensboro, N.C., who works as a counselor, motivational speaker, poet and practitioner of arts and healing, first came to Niblett shortly after he assumed his position at High Ridge. A family in the church experienced a tragedy, and he said he wanted to offer support during the challenging time but found it wasn’t easy to find the right words.

“I wrestled with, what do you say as a pastor to such heartbreaking circumstances?” Niblett said. “Because of that, I said, you know what, let’s connect with the community and bring in someone else who can help us all kind of be able to wrestle with or work through those types of circumstances.”

As he formed planned for this session, Niblett said he started to think about grief he still carried: such as missing his late grandfather and a former student who fell victim to gun violence.

“That really rocked me, even to this very day,” Niblett said. “I still wrestle with the questions of ‘what if’ and ‘why’ and things like that.”

This event is positioned to allow people to talk about their losses with others who understand their grief and to find a path toward inner peace.

“That actually, to me, starts the process of resolving within your own self, maybe the questions of your purpose, or coming to grips with although this may have happened, what now can I do with the memories? What can I do with the love that I had for this individual? Taking into account, what was their life like? Can I continue to work their legacies in certain ways?” Niblett said. “Sometimes if you continue to hold on to that unresolved stuff, you spin in circles in a sense and lose your sense of purpose. I know there are people who have gone through a traumatic loss and have not been able to really move past it. I’ve seen it affect people in many different ways.”

He said attendees will gain knowledge that will equip them for their healing journey, which Niblett said begins with grace.

“In my take personally, as long you’re breathing, there’s breath in your body, not all hope is lost,” Niblett said. “It would be for these types of events that we want to host, for people to get a sense of community, a sense of belonging to see there’s others who may have the same situation that I have going on, that I don’t have to do this alone. ”That’s what I’m hoping to build is relationships to help people to maybe find someone in the session that they can connect with to say that I’m not alone. Maybe can we talk further together or can we do things together? Especially with parents who have lost children or caregivers who have lost parents. The dynamics can flow in so many different ways. That would be my goal, is community relationship building.

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