St. Edward hosting Grief Support Group beginning Sept. 25

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To help those experiencing grief and loss find support among their fellow mourners, St. Edward Church is continuing its grief ministry with a seven-week Grief Support Group every Monday at 7 p.m. beginning on Monday, Sept. 25, and continuing through Monday, Nov. 6, at the church. 

This is the second iteration of the support group after kicking off the new ministry last fall with a speaker series and the first support group last January. 

“It was received really well last year. We had a great turnout for the speaker series and then had great success having the support group,” said Julianne Hansen, director of faith formation at St. Edward, noting that nine people participated in the latter. “It was really, for me, an honor to be a part of it, to support people along their journey.” 

“This is a ministry that’s not at many churches and yet is one that is needed because death will always be a part of our lives,” Hansen explained. “It’s vital for us because your grief is as deep as your love for the person you lost, and so my goal is to help turn that grief into mourning.” 

Part of the support group is to help those who attend understand the difference between the two terms. 

“Grief is the internal expression or experience of loss,” Hansen said. “Mourning is coming to terms with the fact that your loved one has passed on, while figuring out how you can remember them and honor them with our lives. 

“You continue to love them even though they’re not physically here,” she added. “As Catholics, we know better than anyone that they’re still with us, just in a different way.” 

Hansen, who will facilitate the support group each week, said every session will continue to build on each other, as she goes through the technical terms, opens up opportunities for participants to talk about their loved one, and help them to figure out how they want to carry on that person’s legacy. 

“This group is about providing a space where they feel comfortable sharing because sometimes one of the difficult components of grief is that everyone processes it differently, even within a family unit,” Hansen said. “Sometimes it’s easier to talk to strangers because you can say whatever is on your mind without fear of offending someone or being judged.” 

Additionally, each participant will receive a copy of “Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart” by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, along with the accompanying journal to help guide them through the process. 

Dr. Wolfelt is one of the leading death educators and grief counselors in North America with his books selling more than 1 million copies across the world. He is the founder of the Center for Loss and Life Transition. 

“A lot of people struggle to continue living their life if they don’t find a healthy way to deal with their grief, and if you haven’t lost someone close to you then there is no way to understand what it’s like. So often people who are in these situations feel isolated, and we never want anyone to feel that way,” Hansen said. “Our hope is to help them heal in the grief and mourning process but also recognize where they are so ultimately it’s up to themselves and God as to how to move forward in their mourning. 

“A lot of times, people just don’t even know where to begin with their grief and mourning,” she continued. “Sometimes they need someone else, outside their family, to help them realize that wherever they’re at, it’s OK.” 

For more information or to RSVP to the Grief Support group, email Hansen at RSVPs are required and must be received by Friday, Sept. 22. It is recommended that participants be at least six months out from the loss. 

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