Retreat provides focus on grief

For the past 19 years, New Hope for Widow/ers has held this annual retreat to provide support

The funeral is over. The flowers have faded.  The tears keep coming. Friends are thinking you should be over it or offering to set you up on dates. The tears keep coming. What comes next? Where do you go from here?

Answers to these and other questions may be found at an upcoming retreat in Vernon April 29 to 30.

For the past 19 years, New Hope for Widow/ers has held this annual retreat to provide support, encouragement and educational workshops to bereaved widows and widowers.

This year, the two-day retreat will be held at Emmanuel Fellowship Baptist Church, 3412 – 15th Ave.

“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,” said Karen Bouchard, with New Hope.

“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 Friday evening will feature guest speaker, Denise Giffen, widowed in the middle of civil war tensions in West Africa in 2002.

Grace Wulff, founder of New Hope, will share the story of how she began this organization in the middle of her own grief experience. Refreshments and an opportunity to get to know fellow retreaters will follow.

On the Saturday, retreat participants will attend a general session about 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 can be selected: 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 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 during her early years as a widow.

“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,” said Bouchard.

“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, phone the New Hope office at 250-545-6004 or e-mail with your mailing address.

More information is available at


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