7:30 Tuesdays in the Bell Tower.
Have you recently experienced the death of a loved one or are you presently dealing with a loved one’s terminal illness? If you are, you need not go through the grieving process alone.
The death or terminal illness of a family member can be emotionally and physically debilitating, causing confusion, many disparate emotions and behavioral and physical reactions. Many of these reactions are natural, normal and necessary; some are not and are cause for concern. Everyone grieves in his or her own way. There is no “right way” to grieve. Grieving is not a sign of emotional weakness. But grieving is not something to ignore, particularly if it adversely affects our relationships and work life, causing depression, helplessness, withdrawal and isolation, trouble sleeping and physical symptoms and pain.
It has been demonstrated that grief sharing in groups with others experiencing the same or similar reactions to a death or terminal illness of a loved one has a beneficial effect and enables the participants to heal.
The mission of St. Patrick’s grief sharing group is to help participants accept the reality of their loss; assist them as they experience the physical and emotional pain of the grieving process; adjust to life without the deceased or the terminally ill loved one; and find an enduring connection with the deceased and about-to-be deceased so that the participants can move on with their life.
St. Patrick’s is a faith-based grief-sharing group which meets once a week in the evening in the parish office building from December through May. The group will be conducted in an open, non-judgmental and caring atmosphere.
If you or someone you know might be interested in joining the group, please contact Arthur Gowran at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details regarding the day, time and location of the group.
1 Moving beyond grief to wholeness requires spiritual healing: we need to turn to God for help because we cannot heal on our own. We need to pray and ask God for help, but we need to act on our behalf as well. God works through us but not for us. God does not solve our grief/problems; he helps us solve our grief/problems. We need to engage God as an ally in our journey of healing. Healing requires that we take responsibility for our part in the healing process.
2 Grief is suffering. Suffering is a condition of disease (dis-ease), a departure from wholeness, a harmful or destructive condition. Responding to a disease with denial, anger or guilt is a common way we defend ourselves against feelings of loss and vulnerability.
3 Healing begins when we are willing to see our grief/suffering as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block, as a hidden gift within the suffering, a blessing in disguise.
4 How can grief/suffering—dis-ease—open us to a deeper experience of our spiritual nature? We are spiritual beings as well as physical beings. Our inherent nature is perfect wholeness; we are individualized expressions of God, who is wholeness itself. Suffering through grief provides us with an opportunity to awaken from the dream of the human mind to the reality of the Divine Mind.
5 Suffering (through grief) humbles us. We realize we are not in control and do not have all the answers. If we can humble ourselves and let go of expectations of how things should be, obstacles in our path begin to fall away. We become more open to learning, to the opportunity to go deeper than we would otherwise go in our search for spiritual understanding. We turn to God for help often when conventional means have failed. Can we see God working in us in our grief? This is very difficult to see in the midst of our suffering, but the death of a spouse may be the very condition that nurtures a transformation beyond our human understanding.
6 We give meaning to all that we experience in our lives by our attitude and beliefs. We give meaning to our grief by the way in which we look at it. We can choose to see our loss and grief negatively as a victim or we can choose to see them positively as an opportunity for personal growth and transformation, making us whole and stronger as we face life’s future challenges. The former view–as victim—increases our suffering, while the latter view–as opportunity–empowers us to be in charge of our own life experiences, to be creators of our life’s experiences.
7 We are agents, meaning we are responsible for our response to our grief and suffering. Our responses are based upon our perceptions and beliefs. It follows, therefore, that we are responsible for the meaning we give to our grief and suffering. We are in control as to how we see our grief. We need to exercise that control to see our grief as an opportunity, a new possibility for transformation. How will we do that is the question?
8 There is no resurrection (healing and recovery) without the crucifixion (grief and suffering). With prayer, the help of God and our own hard work and effort, we can recover, overcome our grief and once again live life with joy and optimism.