Grief is the normal response to losing a loved one. Powerful words, but words nonetheless. But words that take emotional meaning in so many different directions to so many different people.

Since 1997, The GriefCare Place, located at 4499 Darrow Road in Stow, has served thousands of grievers from over 64 communities in Northeast Ohio. A group of 39 grievers, led by founders Lou-Ann Redmon and Sue DeBoer, dreamed and prayed into existence a safe place where those who hurt could find comfort, solace, and support. The first official grief support meeting was held in June of 1997, when a group of men grieving the deaths of their spouses gathered to offer one another support.

In the past 20 years, the [originally named] Redmon Grief Resource Center grew, changed locations, and changed its name to The GriefCare Place. The mission has always remained the same: To provide a safe place where grievers gather together, under the guidance of trained facilitators, to encourage and uplift each other throughout the healing journey.

In 1997 there were three support groups, 105 group participants, an all-volunteer "staff," and a mailing list of 125. Twenty years later, in 2017, there are 10 support groups, 75 volunteers, plus volunteer fundraising committees, a paid Executive Director and Executive Assistant, a mailing list of over 2,000, individual counseling offered in-house, and workplace grief outreach supplied as needed to area businesses.

To help celebrate the 20th year of Hope and Healing for Hurting Hearts, the public is invited to an Open House at The GriefCare Place on July 15. Staff members, volunteers, Board members, and past and/or present grievers will be available from noon to 4 p.m. There will be displays of photos and memorabilia from The GriefCare Place's past 20 years. The beautifully cared-for Memorial Garden provides time and space for a quiet visit, helping the many hurting hearts who have found comfort and solace there, as well as within the walls of The GriefCare Place.

The GriefCare Place posits two very important points: First, everybody grieves, at one time or another, in their life. If we are alive, and if we love, we will grieve. Second, while not every griever requires grief support beyond their physician, family, or church, most grievers in our society can benefit greatly from some period however brief of group support with other grievers.