The Long Journey of Grief
Grief has been described as “a journey of heartache and deep sadness that no one can prepare themselves for until it happens”. A Catholic parish in Johannesburg is running a 13-week programme twice a year to support those who have lost loved ones.
The Griefshare programme, offered by St John’s church in Northriding, is conducted by trained facilitators who have walked the journey of grief. The Christian-based programme comprises a video, a workbook and group-sharing. Each week’s theme aims to assist participants to understand their grief and to engage in practical activities to ease the pain.
“Grief is a natural response to loss when someone you love is taken away. The pain of the loss can feel very overwhelming and can be filled with unexpected emotions that we have to learn to accept and process,” said one former Griefshare participant, who wishes to be named only as Sheryl. She attended the programme in February 2020.
“Having lost my late husband in a motorbike accident on November 23, 2019, it felt like my whole world had come to an end.” She asked herself: “How am I now a widow, a single mother, the main provider, the ‘dad’ to my then seven-year- old son … why was this happening to me?” Sheryl remembers sitting in church week after week, asking the question: “Why us? How do we continue to live our lives without my husband?”
“It was not easy to accept in the beginning, but attending the Griefshare programme gave me the opportunity to understand what grief is, that our journey is unique to each of us — but more importantly that God is walking this journey with us,” Sheryl said.
“I am grateful for the Griefshare facilitators as they continuously reminded us that when we hit the bumps in the road, we can still find joy, peace, love, and the courage to move forward, one day at a time, as we go through this journey,” Sheryl said. “Time does not heal and take away the pain, but it does get softer as we continue our journey of grief.”
This echoes the view of the late Swiss-American psychologist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, who specialised in issues of dying and grief. “The reality is that you will grieve forever,” Dr Kübler-Ross wrote. “You will not get over the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.”
The Griefshare programme at Northriding parish, which is open to all, will commence in February. The cost is R380, which includes a course workbook. Those living in other parts of South Africa are advised to google “Find a Group – Griefshare” to find a venue closer to home.
For more information contact Arianna on 071 138-8401