SOLACE: Soul + Grief

The Continuing Story of a Parish Group - Part 2

September 01, 2023 Candee Lucas Season 2 Episode 37
SOLACE: Soul + Grief
The Continuing Story of a Parish Group - Part 2
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Today we revisit our parish grief group. Our 3 friends, Dolores, Kathy and Trinie share sacred insights, dissecting the process of grief, and identifying the significance of time in healing. Moreover, listen to our friends as they share their beautiful stories of faith and resilience.  They share the beauty of this group, a sanctuary for those dealing with fresh wounds and those nursing old ones.  They  discuss the dynamics of the group, the importance of comfort for all members, and the resources available for those seeking a different healing path. 

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Our theme music is:  Gentle Breeze by Yeti Music from the album "Uppbeat".
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Candee:

Welcome to Solace Soul + Grief. I'm your host, Candee Lucas. We, Catholic Cemeteries, know that the loss of a loved one has a profound effect on our lives and we would like to help you deepen your faith, pay attention to where God is moving in your life as you grieve, and call upon the love of God to accompany you. Each week we take a different text or scripture or poem, or maybe an idea from the Holy Spirit, and we use that idea or poem or song to help us reflect more deeply on our grief and God's place in our life and God's place next to us as we grieve. Please remember you're always welcome in our circle of healing, love and support. Today we rejoin our three friends that are running a parish grief group and they continue their discussion about their experiences in the group and how God informs the work that they do. They further discuss the blessings of participating in a group like this. When people come too soon, how do you recognize that aspect of somebody coming when they're not ready?

Dolores:

Usually they're the person that just sits there and cries during the whole time. You know, sometimes we've known the people and have tried to encourage them to come later on.

Kathy:

It's also if they're in the first three months after someone's experienced a loss close to them. They have so many things. They're kind of in a crisis and they have so many things they have to deal with legally and to take care of the business of what this death has meant to them.

Kathy:

So our experience is that they need time. They need time to get through that initial crisis and the grief group can provide support and consolation once they have gotten through that part. But the initial shock of the death and the initial being overwhelmed with the amount of just paperwork and everything that's involved, it's too much to add a grief group on top of that. That's when they need close friends, close family, possibly individual counseling, depending on how the death occurred and their reaction to it.

Dolores:

Some of our participants have been to grief groups supplied by whatever illness their loved one had. You know Parkinson's disease or something like that.

Kathy:

So they know the basics, but they're looking for a faith-based one, which is what we do, and there are those faith-based groups, there's also community groups and there's groups that we kind of alluded to specializing, like for parents who've lost a young child, for people who experience their loved one died by suicide. There's a variety of local things that people can find that we can help them, direct them to.

Trinie:

In our group it's really usually we limit because we don't. Sometimes the room isn't big enough, but we limit participants to a total of 10, the three of us and seven others. So in most of the time we don't even get that many that want to know about it.

Candee:

The other thing I think one of you talked about is referring people out when they need further counseling or maybe a higher level of support. I know that a lot of parishes take the position that the next referral should be to the pastor. How do you guys feel about that?

Kathy:

We haven't been doing that.

Dolores:

We haven't been doing that, but that has not come up.

Kathy:

Well, initially I was told by the first priest that he doesn't do counseling.

Kathy:

He doesn't understand that that's not a thing, so it would depend on the parish, but mostly we find counselors. We have a list of a few Catholic counselors we have lists of. Hospice of the valley provides a wonderful service in that it provides free counseling to anyone who has had the loss of a loved one within the last 13 months, and that's quite unique. That's something to do with their nonprofit status, and so we look for other resources that we haven't referred them to the parish priest. I assume that they would have gone there to begin with.

Trinie:

And some people have.

Kathy:

Yes, and some people have.

Candee:

So what role would you say --- So we won't identify anybody. Has the priest role been in support of this group or yes, support not support different depending on who it is.

Trinie:

I think all of them have been supported.

Kathy:

They're supportive, they put in their bulletin, they make announcements from the altar.

Trinie:

And that's the thing that we do too. We do advertising, you know, certain amount of weeks before we actually start the sessions, and it's always in the parish bulletins.

Candee:

We're going to go a little bit deeper with y'all now and say how has this affected your own spiritual formation, as you've taken part in this ministry?

Kathy:

It's really affected my own personal spirituality. I have really learned to look at how God has touched me in my own life, how he brought me into this ministry and how nourishing it has been for me. It's provided me with an opportunity to use my faith and spirituality in a new direction, to reach out to others, and that's been very important to me.

Trinie:

That's pretty much the same for me. I feel like I get so much more out of it than I even feel like I need to put it into it, because there's so many different places and they're grieving. And then with all of our books and things that we use to get information, sharing is the huge thing, because even the group has an opportunity to share something that they bring themselves.

Dolores:

It gave me insight on why Howard died. It was his time. He had run the race, he had fought the good fight and God called him home. It doesn't mean that I don't miss him every single day and wish he were still here, but I'm not mad at God for doing this, because this was the goal to begin with. So I can't say no, you can't do it yet. For heaven's sake. Well, you could say that, I could say that, but I don't, because there's a part in our book that we use about being angry with God about the death of a person, and I've never felt angry with God.

Candee:

But have you come across people in the group who will feel that way?

Dolores:

Yes.

Trinie:

We've had a couple of people that kind of stand out.

Kathy:

Because of that, to us that we've learned from yes, we've learned from the others. Walking with so many people through their grief has made me appreciate life even more and I appreciate the people in my life more and really be more thankful in that way. Also, it's provided-- When I go to my church I see people all around me who come to the grief group at different points and I feel like I have a special relationship with them and a special connection and that is very nice to feel a special part of the community, for them to be recognized also as part of the community.

Dolores:

And as we look around our churches, our churches are aging. We're having more and more people pass to their heavenly reward. So I think it's a really important ministry to have in your church, to have someone to walk along with these people.

Kathy:

And I'd just like to mention some of the people who come to us have lost their loved one in the last, within the last year probably most of them, but we've had people come to the group who have lost their spouse maybe 13 years ago, 6 years ago, 3 years ago. So they have realized or they've been told by their family you really need to do something, dad, you're really not progressing, and so they've come in and you know what they shared with us is it has helped them look at their grief again and look at it among a group of people and see, realized they're not alone in grieving and that's been very important to them and they've said they've had some healing.

Kathy:

So that has been Privileged to walk with people through death. And I would also say, you know, we definitely have many more women than men, but the group is mixed and you know, sometimes they have a lone man who feels comfortable and sometimes man by himself doesn't feel comfortable, but we encourage them to stay or try to find another place for them where there might be more men.

Candee:

That brings to a close another episode. I'm Candee Lucas, your host, aftercare coordinator for Catholic Cemetery's in San Jose, chaplain and spiritual director. Please support us by Subscribing on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Amazon Nusic or Spotify. You can contact us through the telephone number or email on the show notes. We always welcome your comments and suggestions for future episodes. Spiritual direction is always available for those who are grieving through Catholic Cemeteries. Be gentle with yourselves. Travel with God, vaya con Dios.

Grief Ministry and Support in Parishes
Grief Support Group and Services Offered