Throughout our lives we are likely to incur numerous losses. The death of a loved one is a particularly difficult experience for most people. Major life changes can also be felt as losses: family breakdown, broken relationships, loss of employment, loss of social supports due to relocation, loss of identity or loss of financial freedom due to an illness or disability, to name but a few.
Grief is our response to loss. It is the normal, natural and inevitable response to loss and it can affect every part of our life, including our thoughts, behaviours, beliefs, feelings, physical health and our relationships with others. After a death, we may experience a range of intense feelings, such as sadness, anger, anxiety, disbelief, panic, relief, irritability or numbness. Grief can also affect our thinking and cause difficulty in sleeping. With the support of family and friends, many people adapt to loss and may not experience intense and persistent feelings; however, for many, the experience of grief can be an emotional roller coaster and become overwhelming.
Grief is an individual experience, doesn’t have a timeline and can be triggered at any time. Your grief is unique to you, and as long as you are not causing harm to yourself or those around you, there are no right or wrong ways to grieve. It is a common myth that people get over grief. The reality is, that a part of us will always grieve the loss of our loved one. With time, the pain will lessen, but the sorrow we feel will always be a part of us.
When people grieve, they are coming to terms with what has changed in their lives. It’s okay to admit you are struggling with your grief, whether it be weeks, months, years or even decades after the death. Grief can lead to emotional loneliness, social isolation and a sense of not belonging, of not being connected or understood. You can feel lonely even when you’re surrounded by people.
There is no return to normal; rather, we have to learn to navigate a new kind of normal – re-learning the world and re-learning ourselves within it. Many of us have personally experienced loss and would have appreciated someone, in addition to close family members, to be present, listen, share our grief, and to walk beside us.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
As part of the pastoral care initiative, Fr Josh has requested that a grief support team be formed in the parish to reach out to others in times of grief and loss. The Grief Support Team’s role is to:
- first and foremost, support and journey alongside those who have recently lost a loved one;
- offer support during times of emotional crisis caused by major life changes such as those above;
- reach out to all OLR Parish communities – Beerwah, Landsborough, Maleny, Kawana, Unity, Currimundi, Little Mountain and Caloundra;
- respectfully acknowledge the confidentiality and privacy of those grieving;
- invite all parishioners, especially those experiencing loss of any kind to attend the bi-monthly OLR Grief Support Mass and morning tea; and
- remember those who have died (anniversaries).
If you feel that the Grief Support team can be of assistance to you or your family members contact the parish office with your details so a support person can contact you. All contact is treated with utmost confidentiality. Grief support team members are compassionate, respectful in their approach, and consider it a privilege to share in your journey. Parish office contact details are [email protected] or 07 5490 5777.
Fr Joshua Whitehead