Groups offer bereavement support at St. Luke'sBy Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Westborough – “Grief is like peeling an onion…it comes off one layer at a time and you cry a lot,” wrote Marion Balster of the Compassionate Friends, a worldwide group that offers friendship, understanding and hope to bereaved families during the natural grieving process after losing a child. Grieving is difficult so people often need help in dealing with the death of a loved one.?
At St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church in Westborough, bereavement care is part of the parish ministry. Parish nurse Julie Basque is a co-facilitator of the two support groups that meet every other week in the fall and spring.?
“It's a chance for the bereaved to be together to share with others who are also experiencing what they are feeling whether deep sadness or anger or guilt or loneliness.? The objective of the group meetings is support and care,” explained Basque, who is a trained chaplain and a member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.
?The evening group meets at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday in the parish center at 1 Ruggles Road in Westborough, and is open to anyone who is interested in participating in a spiritually focused, faith-based support group. The sessions are developed around various themes and include guest speakers. Topics range from permission to mourn and praying through grief to surviving the holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and restoring balance by taking care of oneself.
The daytime group currently meets in Grafton every other Tuesday morning from 10:30 a.m. until noon, and is open to anyone in the surrounding communities. Led by Denise Kwasnik, a pastoral care counselor, and Jackie Silverstein, a bereavement minister, the sessions have no outside speakers and focus on sharing feelings at a parishioner's home.
In addition to the support groups, St. Luke's recently held a Mass of Remembrance for families and friends who had experienced the loss of a loved one during the past year.? During the service, prayers were offered as the names of the parishioners buried from St. Luke's were read during the liturgy.
On Thursday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m., the church will hold its third annual holiday memorial service, which is designed to give those who are grieving during Christmas time an opportunity to be with others who have also experienced a loss. Pictures of loved ones are displayed; candles lend a soft glow and soothing gentle music is played. Monsignor Michal Foley remembers loved ones by name and gives a sermon designed for the bereaved.?
?”Christmas is especially hard because the family wants life to get back to normal, but the grieving person knows that traditions must change to meet the new reality,” wrote Doug Manning in his booklet “The Pain of Grief.”? Manning's pamphlet is one in a series of four donated by David Pickering of Westborough Funeral Homes for St. Luke's to use. These helpful booklets are mailed over the course of a year to the parishioners who have experienced the loss of a loved one, along with letters explaining the bereavement program.
?”If you feel you need more support,” one letter states, “it is important to find people within your life that you can be with in your grief … people who will not rush you through your grief, but will listen well and allow you to show them how you are grieving.”?
It is this type of support that is available to anyone in the community who wants to participate in the program.?
“Friendships develop. Members become part of the care networks and help others,” Basque said.?
?She invited anyone who is interested to call her at the parish center, 508-366-8509, to learn more this ministry.
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