St. Alban’s Episcopal Church has program to help those dealing with grief

Published 7:39 pm Thursday, December 27, 2018

Beginning Jan. 9, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church on Warrior’s Trail will offer a program to help people grieve for the loss of a loved one.

Walking the Mourner’s Path is an eight-week, faith-based program to help people through the grieving process by participating in it with others will go through Feb. 27.

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“This is a program that was developed within the Episcopal Church,” said St. Alban’s rector the Rev. Billie Abraham. “I heard about it and inquired about getting it at St. Alban’s, because St. James Episcopal Church in Jackson was the one that brought it to Mississippi.”

She and two parishioners, Stacy Weaver and Betsy Selby, attended the program’s training session in Texas to learn how to conduct the program. Part of the process, she said, included going through the program.

“At the end of the program, what we knew was not only how to present the program, but what it had done for us, because we delved into our own grief process and it’s something that had built up among the three of us, and it knit the people (attending the workshop) and us together,” Abraham said.

The essential element, she said, is the program involves a small group of not more than eight people and is confidential.

“Anything that is said there stays there,” she said. “It is confidential in that we don’t even talk about who’s in the group. We don’t ever say a name or any part of anyone’s story. It’s held in confidence. The people who participate are free to say whatever is on their mind and in their heart.”

Releasing feelings

At the start of the program, the participants introduce themselves and discuss why they came.

“By the time the first meeting is over, the group begins to grow into a sense of oneness and sense of support for each other,” Abraham said.

“It is the releasing of their feelings and it gives others permission to do the same, and it works in that in the end; it’s one more step in the grieving process, and it’s grief over the loss of a loved one. It’s not grief over a divorce, or grief over the loss of a job. This is specifically grief over the loss of a loved one.”

Abraham said her experience with the grieving process “is that when we surrender to it and honor our true feelings by finding someone who will listen to us — not someone who is going to fix us, because we don’t need suggestions on what to do.

“When someone’s going through grief, what they need is someone to companion them, to listen to them and give them permission to feel what they’re feeling and honor what they’re feeling and stay with them.

“What will happen, the person grieving will just need a break, a pause, then come back, and we repeat that for as lone as we need to repeat it; the pauses and rest periods get longer and the intensity of the grief gets less, but it just takes time. There are no short cuts.”

There is no time limit for grieving, Abraham said.

“No time, because you never go back to the way it was, you just move into a new normal and that new normal means opening up and feeling, instead of the loss of the person in your life, the nearness of the person in your life, but it takes grieving.”

And the wound caused by the loss of a loved one “heals and becomes a source of wellness and wholeness.”

Walking the Mourner’s Path will be from Jan. 9 through Feb. 27 and will meet each Wednesday during the program from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

For more information, contact the Rev. Billie Abraham at 601-594-0066 or 601-636-6687.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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