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Journey with others in their grief

“Never grieve alone,” said Msgr Esau Joseph while he, along with the Ministry of Consolation (MoC) of St Charles Borromeo RC Church, hosted a retreat for bereaved persons on March 16. The theme was Grief reality, Talk therapy and the grief work.

After praise and worship led by Philip Okafor and opening prayers by Msgr Joseph, the tone was set and the formalities of welcome, and introduction seamlessly followed.

It was time to talk about grief, but not yet, not before everyone played the ‘line-up’ game. It was simple and fun and initiated the process of working together.

During his talk on the relevance of the Word “along life’s journey”, Msgr Joseph shared the story of ‘the road to Emmaus’ from St Luke’s Gospel, and its relevance to the discourse on grief and talk therapy introduced in an earlier presentation vividly unfolded.

He spoke about Cleophas and his companion journeying together both sad and disillusioned at the turn of events in Jerusalem. In their grief, they did not recognise it was Jesus who accompanied them and enquired what their discussion was about.

Conversing with Jesus gave them the opportunity to vocalise everything they had experienced, and this encounter with Him gave them the hope that all was not lost.

In what may be best described as an ‘Aha!’ moment, whispers of agreement were heard at the realisation that the two companions had a “talk therapy” session with Jesus.

Monsignor highlighted the fact that they did not remain alone in their grief—they were journeying together. He urged the group to have at least one person with whom they can talk to about what they are going through, and he emphasised “your strength comes from accompaniment with others.”

The highly engaged retreatants, evidenced by the level of their participation in the talk therapy exercise and other group work, also benefited from presentations on the symptoms and stages of grief which were facilitated by the MOC’s Team Leader Barbara Wafe. She also presented on the grief work and cultivating friendships and relationships.

Bereavement counsellor with the Belgrove Group of Companies, Ceirid Sampson addressed the group on complicated grief and talk therapy as well as “children grieve too,” and “love yourself.”

Group work included reflection on the Word taken from St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians. Each table reported after this reflection exercise, and they were applauded for their enlightening and enthusiastic contributions.

During a reflection on ‘Spiritual You’, Msgr Joseph reminded the group of the power of prayer and Jesus’ promise to be with us always in all things. Reiterating that the Grace of God is sufficient for each one of us to make it in life, he urged “share what you are feeling”.

Holy Mass, offered for the intentions of the bereaved brought the retreat to a close. The melodious music of a special choir led by J’Lani De Four added signature to a beautiful day.

At the end of the Mass, MoC member Barbara Williams thanked all the persons who contributed to the success of the retreat. Special thanks to Ceirid Sampson and Tricia Syms.

— Manuelita Gomez -Thomas