Retreat is a safe place to grieve and grow

New Hope for Widow/ers is a support group in Vernon that assists men and women who have lost a spouse, and the annual retreat can help

Editor’s note: The following is from New Hope for Widow/ers, a support group in Vernon for those who have lost their spouse.

Where do I go when my spouse has died? Who understands what I am going through? How can I share my feelings without making other people uncomfortable? How do I fit in to a “couples world” when I have no interest in dating? When will the tears and the pain go away?

For the past 16 years New Hope for Widow/ers has held an annual retreat to give support, encouragement and educational workshops to bereaved widows and widowers. This year, a one-day retreat will be held at Emmanuel Fellowship Baptist Church in Vernon, April 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Also included is a Friday evening concert with artist Shelley Burger of Kelowna and the featured guest speaker, Fran deZeeuw of Kaleden, who will share her own experience of the sudden loss of her husband in 2004.

Refreshments and an opportunity to get to know fellow retreaters will follow.

Saturday will provide the opportunity for retreaters to individually share their personal story of loss in a small group setting, followed by the choice of three workshops. This year New Hope is pleased to offer the following workshop topics: Transitioning to Living Single; Hoping and Coping in the First Year; Christianity and the Griever; Financial and Estate Needs; Complicated Grief; and Experiencing Grief as a Man. The day will include lunch and a candlelight ceremony of remembrance.

A retreat such as this is a valuable time to gain knowledge and understanding of the grief process as well as a way to find encouragement and strength through common shared experiences. A unique characteristic of New Hope is that, having experienced widowhood themselves, members 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.

Cost for the retreat is $60 if registered before April 1; $75 after April 1. Accommodation overnight, for those from out of town, is not included. To receive a registration form or to register, phone the New Hope office at 250-545-6004 or e-mail new-hope@telus.net with your mailing address. You may learn more about New Hope on their website at www.newhope-grief.org or on their site for teens at www.newhope-grief.org/teengrief