Grief and Bereavement
THE GRIEF & BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT GROUP
Support groups are becoming popular in many churches nationwide. The Cathedral of Saint Paul in Hempstead, New York formed a support group for people suffering grief and bereavement, with the intention of providing help to those recovering from the loss of a loved one.
Grief, if not dealt with properly, can be quite debilitating. One may experience physical as well as emotional duress from unresolved grief. The individual may experience difficulty sleeping, eating, and even thinking clearly. Often the bereaved cannot communicate their need for help.
HISTORY / BACKGROUND
The Cathedral of Saint Paul in Hempstead, New York created the Grief & Bereavement Support Group in March of 1994, with the blessing and spiritual guidance of Rev. Father Nicholas J. Magoulias. Mrs. Kay Pamas, a parishioner who had experienced significant loss in her own immediate family was the organizer and the first group facilitator. Since inception, the group has helped over 500 bereaved individuals to start and stay on the road to recovery and acceptance.
Meetings are held each month throughout the year, because the group has found that grief does not take a vacation. The setting is quite informal and relaxed, allowing the participants to speak freely and openly.
Each meeting is based upon a specific subject. Readings and handouts are prepared and read at each meeting, allowing the moderator to begin the discussion between participants.
Participants address one another on a first name basis. All discussions are held in strictest confidence. Confidentiality is an absolute necessity for the successful healing of group members.
BASIC RULES & PROCEDURE
- Each person’s grief is unique. Respect and accept both what you have in common with others and that which is unique to you.
- Don’t set a specific timetable for how long it should take you or others to heal.
- Feel free to talk about your grief. Respect others who choose not to speak freely.
- Make every effort not to interrupt when someone else is speaking. Respect others’ right to confidentiality. Do not use names of fellow group members in conversations outside the group.
- Allow each person equal time to express themselves.
- Attend each group meeting and be on time.
- Avoid giving advice unless specifically requested by a group member. This group is for support, not therapy.
- Recognize that thoughts and feelings are neither right nor wrong. Create an atmosphere of ready, welcome sharing
ANNUAL TRISAGION SERVICE – Memorial Christmas Tree
As the Christmas holiday approaches, a special Christmas tree is placed in the church. All who have attended the Grief & Bereavement Support Group over the years are invited to a special memorial service celebrated by the priest at which all the names of the departed are read. At the conclusion of the memorial service, each person comes forward and places an ornament on the tree. This tradition has grown over the years with attendance exceeding 175 people.
ANNUAL SPRING TRISAGION SERVICE – In the Garden
Since the spring of 2012, the Saint Paul’s Grief & Bereavement Support Group has held Spring Memorial Prayer Services, followed by a reception in the church hall, similar to the Memorial Christmas Service. A dwarf weeping cherry tree was planted in 2012 and a boulder was placed in front of the tree with a plaque dedicating it to our departed loved ones, and in spring 2013 a Garden of
Remembrance was created around the tree containing perennial plants. If weather permits the prayer service is held on the lawn, otherwise it is held by the Panagia Shrine and followed by a reception in the church hall.
These special memorial services have become much-anticipated annual events that provide much comfort to the families who have lost loved ones.
The Saint Paul’s Grief & Bereavement Support Group meets each month on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday evenings at 7:30 PM (except during Great and Holy Lent and the months of July and August when the evening meetings are held on Tuesdays). Meetings are also available on the 3rd Wednesday afternoon of each month throughout the year at 2:00 PM, as needed and/or by appointment only. All are welcome to attend. For additional information, please contact Anna Dounelis at (516) 752-0875.
GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT GROUP
GREEK ORTHODOX CATHEDRAL OF SAINT PAUL
110 CATHEDRAL AVENUE ~ HEMPSTEAD, NY 11550