When someone dies, those left behind often find the loss hard to grapple with. Some survivors go numb. Some find that after time passes, they have no memory of exactly what happened after the death.
When grief comes, so does the question of how to deal with it.
Birmingham’s Community Grief Support Services (CGSS), a nonprofit organization, works to make sure that people in grief don’t have to suffer alone. The group provides free grief counseling, group support, and events to help lessen the pain in mourners’ lives.
Erin Slaughter, chair of the Junior Board for CGSS, is proud to discuss the work they do. “I’ve been with CGSS for a year now and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a day where I’ve dreaded going to work. I love my job and I love the work we do to help so many people,” she says.
On August 28, Slaughter and other CGSS members will be working their Show in the Dark fundraiser at Avondale Brewery. As the head planner for Show in the Dark, Slaughter said the goal is to bring attention to CGSS services by providing a fun and carefree concert event.
“We’ve done smaller events around Birmingham but we wanted something bigger,” she says. “I sat down with the Junior Board and I said, ‘We need to come up with an event that will draw a big crowd and interest a lot of people.’ And when we were brainstorming what type of event would bring the attention we’re aiming for, we thought a concert would be a great way to pull people in.”
The title Show in the Dark derives from the concept of finding light in dark times. “One of our Junior Board members suggested the title Show in the Dark and suggested we give out glow in the dark necklaces and wristbands -which we will be doing — and we figured that would be good way to make it a fun event but also a creative way to bring attention to CGSS,” Slaughter says.
Slaughter started campaigning for the event in May 2015 and has accumulated a considerable list of sponsors and volunteers. “It’s been almost overwhelming how many people want to help with Show in the Dark,” she says. “It means the world to us that CGSS has friends in so many places.”
Sponsors include Western Supermarket, Golden Flake and Cantina Tortilla Grill, all providing food, and drinks provided by Avondale Brewery. “The event is $20 at the door and guests will be given a wrist band and tickets that provide them with food and drinks,” she says.
Other local businesses are also assisting, including Wags ‘N’ Whiskers pet care facility, Hexcel, Feel the Beat Entertainment, and Birmingham Mountain Radio.
Show in the Dark will also feature live music from Birmingham bands, Raquel Lilly and Creature Camp, and Tuscaloosa group Ferguson and the Copperdogs. “Creature Camp has a more indie/synth rock kind of sound and Raquel Lilly is an indie pop/retro rock singer,” Slaughter says. “Ferguson and the Copperdogs … play rock mixed with songwriter folk music. I think that overall those three bands will be able to play songs everyone will enjoy.”
The CGSS Junior Board, which began in October 2014, consists of nine people between the ages of 22 and 35. “Everyone experiences loss no matter what age,” Slaughter says. “And a lot of younger individuals don’t know who we are or that they have people they can talk to about their loss.” The junior board has raised the profile of the organization among younger Birminghamians, she says.
Earlier CGSS events put on by the junior board included a trivia night at Rojo. They have plans for more trivia, and “doing a kind of crawl around Homewood with various restaurants and bars,” Slaughter says. “We would call it the ‘care crawl,’” she says.
The events CGSS puts on have earned positive responses. “I have people come up to me and say things like, ‘I remember you spoke about grief counseling. I have a friend who needs help,’ or ‘I recently lost someone I love. Can I come by the center and talk to someone?’” Slaughter says. “Everyone that has come up to me and asks about our services is someone that was at an event we held or heard about us through a friend that was at an event.”
Slaughter says CGSS hopes to do at least two big fundraisers a year. The response to Show in the Dark demonstrates that people want more. “On our Facebook event page for Show in the Dark we already have 200 people that have RSVP’d ‘yes’ to the event,” she says. “And that’s huge for our first big fundraiser. So yeah I think that we’ll definitely continue having events to raise money and bring awareness to CGSS.”
Show in the Dark takes place August 28, 2015 at Avondale Brewery from 6 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $20 and all proceeds go to continue CGSS’s free services. If you are interested in getting involved with CGSS, their Junior Board, or would like to talk to someone about a loss call the CGSS office at 205-870-8667.