“Closure has to come from within, you have to close that door yourself” emphasised Ceirid Sampson, Bereavement Counsellor, as she spoke to participants at a workshop on ‘Developing Emotional Wellness While Seeking Closure’ hosted by Msgr Esau Joseph and the Ministry of Consolation (MoC) of St Charles Borromeo, Tunapuna on October 12, 2021.
Sampson commended the timeliness of hosting the workshop during ‘Wellness Month’. People throughout the world are suffering increased personal loss because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sampson defined emotional wellness as the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. In order to do so, we should consider mindfulness, social connections, managing stress, and appropriate expression of emotions.
Mindfulness is cultivating self and situational awareness so that we do not just react, but we think, redirect and safely express emotions, she explained.
She invited participants to share experiences of any loss they may have suffered.
Drawing attention to the feelings and emotions expressed, Sampson highlighted the importance of acceptance of one’s emotions, safely expressing the feelings and focusing on being emotionally well.
She encouraged participants to practise lifestyle-coping skills like kindness, integrity, working without expectation of reward, and living with purpose, to become the best they could be. She gave guidelines that would enable participants to recognise and manage stress and how they can improve their emotional wellness.
Addressing those seeking closure, she explained that when there are lingering questions such as ‘Why did it happen?’, ‘Why now?’, what we are really seeking is closure. We are looking for the answers.
She also pointed out that there are people who prefer not to have closure. She discussed the possible reasons among which were feelings of guilt or criticism by self or others, mindlessly enjoying attention and sympathy of others.
Emphatically, Sampson questioned, “What or whom are you holding on to and why? Are you afraid of not knowing what the outcome might be? Ask ‘who am I again?’.”
Participants shared on their difficulty in finding closure and she highlighted valuable insights encouraging them to focus on what they have learnt from the loss they have suffered and provided guidelines that would assist them to effectively cope with their changing emotional states.
In closing, she emphasised that life is not about how you died but about how you lived. Each person was born for a purpose. Time to mourn. Time to move on. Close the door! You alone have the power to so do. “ In the process of letting go, you may lose many things, but you will find yourself.”
Associated with the theme and consistent with the mission of the MoC, participants also heard a talk on ‘Affective Listening’ delivered by Barbara Wafe, MoC team leader.
Wafe noted that there are persons who walk around with their emotional pain fearing no-one would really listen to them and by extension felt that no-one cared. She reminded participants that all of us would like to be listened to with respect, with confidentiality, without interruptions and no advice or judgement.
In summarising, Wafe urged that people strive to listen attentively to each other, and affirm the strength within, reminding people of their intrinsic human qualities e.g., “you are good, intelligent, powerful, loveable, creative”.
She urged that we give delighted loving attention and assured them “God is with you, do not be afraid.”
Appreciation goes to Ceirid Sampson for her sharing; Philip Okafor for the beautiful musical interlude and to all the participants who contributed to the success of MoC’s second workshop for the year. —Manuelita Gomez
Photo by Nick Bolton on Unsplash