MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — As Monroe County Coroner, Alan Gurley gets urgent calls everyday. But he’ll never forget the most devastating one any parent can receive. The news that his daughter Jessica was in a car accident.
“I was at home the day it happened. It happened just really close to my house there at Hamilton and I was able to get to the car before medical people were able to get out and she died a few hours later. People ask me all the time, do you deal with things different now since you had to go through such a tragic thing with your child? And I have to say yes I do. It does make me a littler closer to my job,” said Gurley.
Unspeakable tragedy and sudden death can affect anyone. Watching the families of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 grieve, Gurley knows it’s a hard pill to swallow.
“I feel sorry for people who have never come to any satisfaction as to what happened, it’s still in their mind,” said Gurley.
Ryan French is a volunteer grieving coordinator at Legacy Hospice in Amory. Every first Thursday of the month coordinators hold a grief support group, helping residents cope through hard times.
“Grieving itself is something that everybody goes through. And there is not a process or a time that grief ends. We go through a process of letting them explain how they feel. Some may be angry, you know, and it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be upset. But at the end of the day when you express what’s in you then that’s the process that becomes the healing process. So you can measure grief by another person. Because everyone is going to handle it in a different way,” said French.
As for Gurley, the pain of losing his daughter never goes away. But his experience helps him when duty calls.
“It’s a lot of things you can go back and fix as far as the death certificate or paperwork or something not done just right. But if you do something that further scars that family, that’s something you can’t fix,” said Gurley.
The grief support group not only deals with death, they also help people who’ve gone through disasters, divorce or loss of employment.
The grief support group is open to anyone. Organizers meet at Meadowood Baptist Church, 1510 Hatley Road, Amory, MS 38821.
For more information, call Ryan French at (662) 257-9811.