Mariner’s invites those grieving to ‘share’ with others

Date Published: 
Dec. 29, 2017

The ministers at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church know that no matter the season, people are experiencing grief. Because of that, they decided to start offering GriefShare to those in the community in need of support.

“It’s such a common issue — grief — especially around the holidays,” said Joe Ciccanti, lay-minister of pastoral care at Mariner’s. “Those who have had experiences of having a death in the family or the loss of a loved one, and they need somewhere to turn — it’s really good to be able to offer that.”

According GriefShare’s website, “GriefShare groups meet weekly to help you face these challenges and move toward rebuilding your life.”

The program features three elements — video seminars, support-group discussion, and personal study and reflection.

“We meet the second and fourth Monday of the month in Room 209 at the church. I start out by making sure they understand about confidentiality in the group. Then there’s a time of sharing after the video. I make it clear that not everybody has to share. They can pass if they want to.”

The church has already completed one session of the course and will be beginning the journey again on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, at 10 a.m. The meetings will take place every second and fourth Mondays of each month.

The full GriefShare program runs for 13 weeks, with each week being a standalone session.

“If someone misses one week, they don’t need to see that video before they see the next,” said Ciccanti, noting the videos are about 40 minutes in length.

Those who participate in the free program will be given a GriefShare workbook to use throughout the sessions.

“There are testimonials in the book. They have exercises for reflection, scripture verses… There are sections they can take notes to go along with the video. They can use that workbook to track their progress and follow along with the videos.”

Ciccanti said the first session had a steady, small group of about 10 people.

“Those who are willing to come out have really gotten a lot out of the videos. We have some who are further along in their grief journey, who are wanting to help others, reach out and support them. They need that time to communicate, share, and express their feelings about things. They’re also looking to connect with others, in terms of helping them as well.”

If the group were to grow, Ciccanti said, Mariner’s Stephen Ministry, a one-on-one caring ministry for those in the church who are grieving, would help run the sessions.

“Some really prefer solitude, but there are times when there is a need to connect with others who are going through similar situations,” he noted.

Ciccanti said the environment is warm, welcoming and supportive for those who attend. Attendees do not need to share, but can, if they choose to do so.

“There’s just so much of a need for it out there, that after praying about it and talking to the pastors, it seemed to be a really good idea to start this at Mariner’s,” he said. “The pastors are supportive and the other lay leaders are supportive of this group as well. We’re all working together.”

While GriefShare is a Christian-based program, Ciccanti said all are welcome to attend the sessions, and he hopes that those in need do.

“It’s open to the community, not just members of the church. There’s an incredible need out there, and we’re just one of the places that offers this. I just want to give folks the opportunity to come out and share and connect with others, because oftentimes people need that support from others.”

Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church is located at 81 Central Avenue, just off Route 26, in Ocean View. For more information regarding Mariner’s GriefShare program, call (302) 539-9510.