525 North Collier Boulevard, Marco
For more information, call Dory Catalano, 389-2363; Nick Eckerle, 394-8123; or Joyce Waidelich, 793-4601.
MARCO ISLAND — Christmas and New Year’s can be especially difficult for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. The empty chair at the table. The silence in the household. The folks at Marco Lutheran Church offer help for that deep hurt.
GreifShare is a Christ-centered nondenominational grief recovery support group. It is one of thousands of GriefShare grief recovery support groups that meets throughout the United States, Canada and more than 10 other countries. The free, 13-week program begins on Thursday Jan. 7 and runs from 10-11:30 a.m. Each session is self-contained; however, participants are urged to attend all sessions in order to receive the encouragement and help offered at each one. Some of the session titles are: “Living with Grief,” “The Effects of Grief” and “Your Family and Grief.”
The video-based series features interviews with experts with years of experience in grief recovery from Susan K. Beeney, R.N., author, speaker and founder of New Hope Grief Support Community in southern California to Zig Ziglar, author of “Confessions of a Grieving Christian.” The “GriefShare Leader’s Guide” states: “Grief recovery is simply feeling better. It is the ability to find joy in life again. It is to treasure the memory of loved ones, to miss them and to live better because of the time in your life that you spent with them.”
This is the seventh year that the Lutheran Church has offered a grief recovery program. Trained facilitators Dory Catalano, Nick Eckerle and Joyce Waidelich head the effort. The trio have all lost loved ones, gone through the GriefShare program and are eager to help others in the community. Catalano, a retired nurse, lost her husband after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease in April 2008. This is her first year serving as a facilitator.
“I found out that my feelings are normal and that it’s good to share with others in grief,” said Catalano. It takes time to heal and to go on living without your loved one.” This will also be the first year that retired engineer and businessman Eckerle will facilitate. His mother passed away last year. However, his only child, a daughter, died 20 years ago at the age of 17. “I did everything wrong then,” said Eckerle, who ran away from his grief. “When my mother died, all these feeling flooded back, but I finally made it to the classes and met a lot of nice people and was helped.”
He saw how he was helped and now wants to be there for someone else. A retired teacher, Waidelich has been with the program the longest. She started with Director of Community Ministries, Joyce Heffernan seven years ago, after the death of her parents and eventually, Waidelich became a facilitator herself. She co-led the group with Heffernan until Heffernan retired last year.
“There are so many hurting people,” said Waidelich. “We pray that they will step forward.” The hybrid program consists of a video with personal stories of people in grief and topical insights from experts in grief recovery, followed by a group discussion of what was seen on the video and an opportunity for participants to share what is going on in their lives.
The third component is a study guide and weekly journal. “Your Journey from Mourning to Joy,” consists of daily prayers, questions and scripture. It states: “When individuals write or talk about personally upsetting experiences, significant health improvements have been found. The effects include both subjective and objective markers of health and well-being,” “We hope that people will find the tools they need to aid in their recovery,” said Waidelich.
Participants are urged to arrive 15 minutes early to relax and to get acquainted over coffee or tea and light refreshments. Everything is confidential. Group members are not required to talk, but are encouraged to do so.
“It’s a safe place to cry,” said Waidelich. “We don’t heal, the Lord heals,” he said. “We are just the facilitators.”