The house is rattling and empty. The bills and sympathy cards sit in a stack, unopened. The helpful phone calls are few and far between. Whether your spouse passed away a month ago or a few years ago, you know that you need help, even though you are not sure what that help should be.
New Hope for Widow/ers 20th Annual Retreat is taking place in Vernon, May 5 to 6. This event provides support, encouragement, and educational workshops to benefit widows and widowers. This year, the retreat will be held at Emmanuel Fellowship Baptist Church, 3412 – 15th Ave.
Friday evening, Grace Wulff, founder of New Hope, will share the story of beginning this organization as a young widow in the middle of her own grief experience. Guest speaker Virginia Fairbrother will relate her experience of losing her husband, David, a retired Vernon pastor, after his journey through two liver transplants and pancreatic cancer ended February 2016. Retreat attendees then have a chance to get to know each other while sharing refreshments after the evening session.
Saturday, retreat participants attend a general session entitled “Understanding the Basic Needs of the Griever” followed by an opportunity to share their individual stories of loss in a small group setting. At registration, three of the following six workshop topics are chosen: Transitioning to Living Single, Hoping and Coping in the First Year, Complicated Grief, Experiencing Grief as a Man, Christianity and the Griever, and Financial and Estate Needs. The day will include lunch and a candlelight ceremony of remembrance. This year, the retreat also offers a Saturday program for children aged six to 10, facilitated by Val Johnson, who has many years of experience with children in the Vernon School District and served on the New Hope Board in her early years as a widow.
This retreat is a valuable time to gain knowledge and understanding of the grief process as well as a way to be encouraged and strengthened through common shared experiences. New Hope’s unique characteristic is that having experienced widowhood themselves, members and volunteers are able to offer empathy and care to those who are mourning the loss of a spouse. The retreat is organized by the volunteer board of directors and other members who come alongside the newly bereaved as “companions,” while the speakers and workshop leaders are experienced and knowledgeable in each of their particular topics.
It takes courage to attend a retreat for grievers, but the overwhelming response from those who come is warm and positive. The goal is to create a safe place to share, learn, and connect with others who have also been widowed.
The cost for the retreat is $60 if registered before April 1, and $75 after that date. Accommodation for out-of-town guests is not included. To receive a registration form and register, please telephone the New Hope office at 250-545-6004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address. You may learn more about New Hope on their website at www.newhope-grief.org.