By: Kris Harris
Experiencing the loss of a loved one, whether family or friend, is never easy and the grieving process can be difficult. Feeling you have no one to talk to, can make it even more difficult. However, you don’t have to go through the process alone; there is help in the community. Formed on August 20th 2016, the Grieving with Hope and Faith group has been providing support to those in need.
The group came together when John Mansour approached Sr. Christine Foumia and Fr. Pierre Konja, to start a group to provide spiritual support and professional guidance to those who are going through the grieving process. “Fr. Pierre and I agreed that there was a need, but we weren’t sure how to make it come about,” said Sr. Foumia. “I was torn because I wanted to start something, but didn’t know what to do. John came into the picture and we were talking about and he said, ‘you know what, we just have to start by picking a date, and we’ll see how it works out.'”
The group’s first meeting was very open and without structure. “Fr. Pierre had his bible and said, ‘okay, let’s just start like this, everyone is going to introduce themselves, tell everyone your loss, and your background,'” explained Sr. Foumia. “There were about 20 people there. Everyone shared their story and they saw that they were on the same page. They saw that they could relate to one another.”
The group’s mission is to trust in the Holy Spirit for guidance and to build life-long friendships and a strong support system. It seeks to find avenues to transform grief through prayer, learning from others and yourself, and through glorifying God.
The group meets every second Friday of the month at the Chaldean Sisters/Daughters of Mary House of Formation on Middlebelt Road in Farmington Hills. The meetings are two-hours long and start at 7:00 p.m.
Grieving with Hope and Faith helps all grievers from those who are struggling with a recent loss, to those who have not properly mourned the loss of someone in their past. “It’s an open-door policy,” said Mansour, a founding member who lost two children in 2013. “I would say the majority of our members are those that have suffered a recent loss, but there are members who have had losses 15, 20 years ago that may not have had help at that time, or a group like this to turn to, that realize there’s still a need.”
Over the last year, the group has grown from 10 families to nearly 30 with no formal advertisement. “It has grown by word of mouth up to this point,” said Mansour. “The mindset was to first see the direction this initiative take us in. We wanted to make sure we were organized and that we had a good blueprint, to prepare ourselves to open up to the rest of the community.”
A typical meeting begins with meeting as an entire group to share personal reflections since the last time they met, followed by small group breakout sessions, which allow member to discuss personal goals. Finally, the members come together again, as a whole, to develop future sessions to meet the member’s needs.
The group often invites guest speakers, from various backgrounds, who offer different perspectives in the healing process. “The speaker selection is typically faith-based, like a priest, or professionally-based, like a counselor or social worker, that has a little more expertise with counseling those who have lost a loved one,” said Mansour. “It could also be individuals who have lost a family member, that have gone on to publish their own book. They come to tell their story, how they’ve been able heal, and share their advice to the group.”
For those who are interested in joining the group, but may not yet feel comfortable sharing their story, there isn’t any pressure to open up right away. “There’s no mandate to come into this group and have to say much,” Mansour said. “You can come and simply listen. We have all kinds of profiles in this group, so it’s a unique mix, and a great mix. There’s no pressure and no attendance, so people can come and go.”
Healing from the loss of a loved is a journey that takes time and having support from others, can make the journey easier to travel. “When you find someone who can understand where you’re coming from, it strengthens you,” said Sr. Foumia. “You walk together in it.”