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Dealing with loneliness after the loss of a loved one

Photo by Alex Green from Pexels

“Take one day at a time!”. Practical advice was shared by Psychologist Dr Margaret Nakhid- Chatoor during a virtual workshop on ‘Dealing with Loneliness after the Loss of a Loved One’. The workshop was hosted on May 25, 2021 by Fr Ian Taylor and the Ministry of Consolation of St Charles RC, Tunapuna. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was held virtually. One hundred persons registered. Support was simply awesome.

Dr Chatoor’s style was engaging and interactive. Participants were led to identify their loss and to understand the symptoms of their grief. Quoting Mother Teresa, Dr Chatoor emphasised “we can cure physical disease with medicine but the only cure for loneliness is love”.

Dr Chatoor is Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology of the University Trinidad & Tobago and is known for her many interventions on grief and loss in the family.

In her discourse, she identified types of loss such as relationship loss, anticipated loss, ambiguous loss and disenfranchised loss. Disenfranchised loss is the grief that may be experienced by persons who have lost loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. These persons cannot openly mourn or acknowledge their grief due to the abbreviation of rituals such as the funeral service, the Wake and the support of family and friends. Dr Chatoor also spoke about complicated grief, the bereavement journey, and the myths about grief. She highlighted the consequences of loneliness and discussed coping strategies and mechanisms.

In terms of coping mechanisms, one of Dr Chatoor’s highlights was the importance of self-care with emphasis on eating properly, staying hydrated, sleeping and exercising. She emphasised the value of finding support, staying connected, setting realistic goals and taking one day at a time.

As she discussed, ‘Where is God in all this?’, Dr Chatoor reminded participants that God is the only one who can put the pieces of your heart back together. Several persons shared their journey on coping with loss and grief, providing ‘great takeaways’ from their experiences.

Andrea Lyder-Baptiste testified of the loss of her daughter on Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014. She recalled the horrific news of the discovery of her daughter’s body at her home with multiple stab wounds. Oh, the trauma, the pain, the grief! Andrea became angry with God. Andrea struggled with thoughts of retribution but for God! Consolation and support came from the Eternal Light Community, family and friends. She now finds strength in calling upon Jesus and exhorted all participants to warn youths to exercise great caution before establishing relationships with persons who come into their lives.

On a lighter note, participants were delighted with the powerful baritone voice of team member Philip Okafor during the musical interlude. Well-deserved thanks, Mr Philip.

In closing the programme, Ministry of Consolation’s (MOC) Team Leader Barbara Wafe, referred to her opening presentation on the Gift of Affective Listening and reminded participants to always listen with Delighted Loving Attention (DLA).

Father Taylor and Team MOC are extremely appreciative of the encouraging and inspiring messages received from participants and believe the following words succinctly captured the sentiments of many: “Good morning, it was a very good seminar. I am happy that all went well. The sharing of the testimony, as well as the other participants, shows the need for events like these. Well done to you and your team! To God be the glory”.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to making the workshop the phenomenal success that it was.

By Manuelita Gomez Thomas