Grace helps with spousal loss

Ron Watson sits next to a picture of his wife, Barbara Jean, at his home in Tulsa. He lost her to Alzheimer's in September 2008. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World

When Ron Watson lost his wife, Barbara Jean, to Alzheimer's in September 2008, he was angry.

"I questioned why this had to happen. I was the bad guy. My wife was nothing like me. She didn't deserve this," he said.

He had contacted Grace Hospice to provide hospice care but despite knowing it was inevitable, he was still devastated by the loss.

"You know it's going to happen. Everyone thinks it's not going to happen today, but sooner or later today comes and you come to the reality that you're going to be by yourself," Watson said.

And while he said Grace provided wonderful care for his wife, it was Grace's grief classes that really helped him deal with the emotional loss because participants are with other people who have gone through the same thing, he said.

"You think that what's happened to you is unique, but it's not," he said. "You cry together, talk together, share together and it helps you in the process. I think you get through it a lot quicker if you get into a group you can share your feelings with."

Grace Hospice is offering free spousal loss support classes during the month of June.

"Grieving the Loss of a Spouse" will be from noon to 1 p.m. Mondays in June at Grace Hospice, 6400 S. Lewis Ave., Suite 1000.

"Folks can come and share their stories and experiences. We'll help increase their understanding of grieving and loss," said Ken Bachelor, bereavement coordinator at Grace.

The support group is a four-part series in which each class builds on another, but participants can join during any of the sessions.

"Wherever you plug in, you'll benefit," Bachelor said.

A few of the members of the group Watson joined still get together every week and even go out for an evening of fun and laughs, something that Watson doesn't think would be possible if he hadn't found the grief classes.

"I'd be somewhere between mad and feeling sorry for myself," he said. "Do I still miss her? Sure I do, and I probably always will.

"Two weeks ago our group went out together to (the play) 'The Drunkard.' I said 'Can you believe that two years ago we thought it impossible that we'd be laughing and having fun?' "


'Grieving the Lossof a Spouse'

When: Noon to 1 p.m. Mondays in June

Where: Grace Hospice, 6400 S. Lewis Ave. Suite 1000

Cost: Free and open to the public; cookies and drinks will be provided but participants are encouraged to bring a lunch.

For more information, call 918-744-7223 or go online to tulsaworld.com/gracehospice


Mike Averill 918-581-8489

mike.averill@tulsaworld.com SUBHEAD: The grief classes helped Ron Watson find a way to laugh again.

Original Print Headline: Grace helps spouses cope with loss