Parishioner Olivia Espinosa remembers being a recipient of the Grief Support Ministry’s compassionate support after her husband’s passing seven years ago. Her experience with the ministry helped her to cope with her journey of grief — and now, as she leads the Grief Support Ministry, it is a positive way for her to help others who are also struggling with the loss of a loved one.
“One of the things I decided to do, after my husband’s death, was help others who are going through similar loss,” Olivia says. “A large part of my grief journey has been helping others with their grief. Helping others is a big part of my own healing. If I can make this a little easier for another person, I will.”
The Grief Support Ministry follows a nine-week program called Walking Through Grief.
“It is a Christian-based program with many contributors who have lost their own loved ones,” Olivia says. “Many of the videos and discussions focus on helping people identify their grief triggers and provide tools and practical strategies to navigate their grief journey.”
The ministry meets every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the parish library. The meetings start with the week-specific video and end with a group discussion focused on the topic and theme of the video.
It is best for people to join the ministry at the beginning of the nine-week session. There are back-to-back sessions throughout the academic calendar with breaks in the summer and around Christmas. New sessions are advertised in the church bulletin, on the parish’s social media accounts, and in the diocesan newsletter.
The program’s content is organized in such a way that meets every participant where they are in the grieving process.
“My favorite week of the program is about how to handle holidays and special events,” Olivia says. “There are many days that can be particularly challenging after you lose a loved one, like the person’s birthday or wedding anniversary. The week’s video shares stories that participants relate to a lot and provides many ideas on how to honor our loved ones on these days and also cope with our own grief.”
In addition to the videos, the group discussions are also impactful.
“As people in the group get to know each other, they start to support and encourage one another,” Olivia says. “One of the most recurring transformations I see in people as they go through the program is often, they will start out feeling alienated and cut off from others, then by the end of the nine weeks they are checking in on the other group members, contributing to the discussions, smiling, and even making plans with friends that they have made in the group.”
All who are grieving are encouraged to attend the Grief Support Group. The best way to know when the next session is beginning is by reading the bulletins and staying up to date with the parish’s social media.
Currently, Olivia is facilitating the ministry on her own. She could use the help of a few volunteers to help with making phone calls and doing the meeting set-up and take-down. One day she hopes to have a co-leader who can help facilitate the meetings and lead discussions.
If you feel called to serve with this ministry or for more information, contact Olivia Espinosa at firstname.lastname@example.org.