NORTH TAMPA - Talking about grief or the loss of a loved one doesn't have to be sad.
That is the message Grace Terry hopes to convey as she launches a series of group discussions called Grief Cafe. Terry calls it an event with no hidden agendas.
The first one is set for 2 p.m. July 16 at University Village, a retirement community complex at 12401 N. 22nd St. located behind University Mall.
"I've been doing grief education and support for a lot of years," Terry said. "A lot of people are hesitant to talk about grief. A lot of people are superstitious or worried bad things will happen."
To increase interest, Terry plans to introduce the conversation about loss and grief to participants over a tray of food and beverages.
"We are going to have a low-key, relaxing conversation with delicious food and refreshing beverages," said Terry, founder of Grief Recovery Resources in Town 'N Country.
The free sessions will be open to the public, but attendance will be limited to the first 10 people who make reservations.
"We are keeping the number of participants small, so that we can have a friendlier, more personal experience," Terry said. University Village officials, who were instrumental in helping Terry launch the program, welcomed the chance to host the first event.
"The reason behind it is we wanted to provide a great source of information for residents and the community at large in their time of need," said Barry Larson, marketing director emeritus at University Village.
A second Grief Cafe session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Florida Blue, 201 N. Westshore Drive.
Since planning the first two events, Terry has received interest from several other groups hoping to arrange similar sessions, she said.
The purpose of Grief Cafe is to increase awareness of loss and grief with a view toward helping people make the most of their finite lives," Terry said.
There is no intent to lead participants toward any particular conclusion, product or course of action, she said.
The experience can be beneficial to anyone who has encountered a significant loss of any kind or who is working to cope with grief. It also can help someone concerned about others dealing with grief or whose job requires them to interact with people on a personal level.
Terry, 59, described herself as a professional mental health services provider with more than 30 years of experience in grief education and support.
Providing grief care and education is a passion, Terry said, adding she would love to host a Grief Cafe session everyday, if she could.
The project is not a money-maker for Terry. She said she will earn a living through other sources.
"It's for community service," Terry said. "I get satisfaction and joy knowing I helped lighten someone's burden."