Grief Support Celebrates Over 20 Years
Twenty years ago the Ridout’s Brown Service group of funeral homes began a pioneering grief recovery program in greater Birmingham. Ridout’s, locally owned and managed at the time, wanted to help the families they served. But how? Who could carry out their vision successfully?
After a two-year search, Ridout’s launched its grief support program with Dr. Gertrude A. “Trudy” Tharpe as the director. She had the education, experience and commitment to make Ridout’s vision a reality.
Seeking resources from around the nation, Ridout’s sent Trudy to see what was being done successfully elsewhere. They brought experts to Birmingham such as Dr. Alan Wolfelt to train volunteers and lead grief seminars for the public.
Eight years later Ridout’s was sold to a Houston company which, though it continued to use Trudy as a consultant, did not fund the program as the locally owned Ridout’s had.
A group of citizens, who had benefited from Ridout’s offerings, organized a non-profit service with Trudy as founding director. She set out to build on the foundation and framework of the previous eight years.
As such, she led Community Grief Support Services for seven years. When major organizational direction and leadership changed, Trudy was asked to serve as director of Alabama Grief Support Services.
AGSS now offers ten support groups in three counties in the greater Birmingham area. Although all grievers are given guidance and support, the support groups focus on newly bereaved widowed persons, followed by friendship groups.
We celebrated our twenty-year anniversary with anticipation of moving toward the future, and saluting Ridout’s pioneering effort and its vision to select Trudy to lead the effort.