James and Virginia Manley have been married for more than 12 years, their story is one of grief, loss, hope and the power of everlasting love!
James and Virginia met at a Crater Community Hospice grief support group after losing their spouses the same year. They were both grieving and looking for support from others who would understand their pain. Virginia said the feeling of being “alone” was so overwhelming that she felt as if she were “flailing in water,” just trying to get through the day. Friends and family suggested she try a grief support group. Although Virginia was very hesitant, she agreed to give it a try. James was grieving in a similar manner and was also encouraged by friends to try the group. Both had doubts it would be helpful and they were very anxious about the first night of group. They each had a plan to make a quick exit if the group got too overwhelming. Looking back now, James said “he wanted to leave so badly, but he just couldn’t move and he knows it was the Hand of God that kept him in his seat that night.”
To their surprise the group went well and they both said they felt a sense of hope and relief after meeting others in a similar situation. “Group helped so much, we were with a group of strangers, each with a different story, who quickly became our friends. We cried together, laughed together and we were able to share our feelings and emotions without being judged.” After this first group a second group was offered; both James and Virginia attended the second session, and over time, they became fast friends. Neither of them was looking for friendship but found in each other someone who understood their pain and someone they enjoyed spending time with. Their relationship blossomed from there and is stronger than ever today!
James and Virginia often reminisce and share fond memories of their beloved spouses. James’ wife Peg, was nicknamed “ladybug” and they’re always reminded of her when the ladybugs make their annual appearance. They often joke that “Peg’s here for a visit” and Virginia says she even talks to them, saying with a smile, “Peg, do you know what that man of ours did today?” They have truly developed a bond of love and hope that transcends time and reaches beyond their own lives, touching many others along the way.
While James and Virginia will never forget their beloved spouses and will always treasure the time they had with them, they feel as if God surely had His hand in their meeting. They continue to be an inspiration to others and say they would “recommend support groups to anyone, groups are for everyone and they’re a safe and welcoming place to share your grief and gain support from others.”
For information about Crater Community Hospice support groups and other bereavement resources please visit our website or contact our office at 804-526-4300