While the seasonal blues may have additional consequences, the grief group offers support | faith matters

A local health magazine published an article last month titled “Holiday Blues? Here’s how to cope. Not only can major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas be depressing for some people, but also this season of the year, fall – even more so for those who mourn the loss of a loved one at a time when the days are over. short and the leaves fall.

The Saint-Henri Catholic Church in Bayonne has a spiritual remedy: a mourning group.

“The goal is to offer spiritual support to comfort those grieving loss through death,” said Carmel Galasso, a certified grief leader.

The group will meet for six Tuesdays beginning Nov. 8 for one hour to 90 minutes.

“Sharing is personal and confidential for the group, a safe place to talk and express emotions,” said Galasso, a Bayonne resident whose full-time job has been director of housing services for United Way of Hudson County since 2006. .

Each session will begin with a spiritual prayer or poem, she described. Then a candle will be lit to represent the life of the deceased and offer hope in the darkness of the journey. Topics covered will include the stages of grief, communications and listening to each other and understanding what grief and bereavement are.

“Grief is a normal reaction to loss,” Galasso said. “Grieving is the process of adjusting and adapting to loss.”

The group will examine the impact of trauma, celebrations of death and what our culture says about grief. They will talk about the emotional, physical and psychological aspects of grief and the importance of affirming feelings of anger, sadness and joy.

Individuals may or may not share their story, she said, and sometimes the personality of the group will determine how quickly or slowly they move from one topic to another. Each meeting resumes the subject of the previous week. At the final meeting there will be a guided meditation with music to help prepare participants to leave the support group.

At each meeting, the group affirms each individual, their feelings and their loss. The goal, Galasso said, is “to walk the road with those who are grieving and make it less lonely.”

Galasso had led the Fall Band for six years before COVID put it on hiatus. Reverend Raul Gaviola, pastor, asked him to revive it.

Galasso tries to limit each group to a maximum of 12 participants so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute. Most of the former participants were middle-aged women, more so than men, she said. And the dead they mourn are often spouses or children.

The biggest challenge, Galasso said, is trying to answer questions for which there are no answers. People want to know what happens to the person after they die, for example. Sometimes there is anger against oneself and even against the deceased person.

“We try to balance that so they don’t blame themselves,” she said.

A particular challenge arises when parents speak of the loss of a child.

“Pain is different, especially if it’s sudden,” Galasso said.

Galasso is also concerned about people who have delayed grieving during COVID and have not been able to have traditional rituals. Plus the fact that COVID took a lot of people unexpectedly.

Galasso brings to the group previous experience working with bereaved people.

From 1996 to 2006, Galasso worked for Catholic charities in the Archdiocese of Newark, connecting people to social services, including working with 9/11 families through social work and counseling. financial. Prior to that, from 1987 to 1995, she was Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at St. Peter’s University and an Adjunct Teacher teaching a course on “Death, Dying and Grieving.” She was also the founder and director of Kaleidoscope, a bereavement support group at the university, and held funeral services while there.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees and was Past Chair of St. Peter’s University Alumni Council and Chair of the Hudson Hospice Board of Trustees.

Galasso said she was ready to “help everyone on their journey so they can walk with someone.” It’s a gift she’s perfected over the course of her life.

Reverend Alexander Santora is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph, 400 Willow Ave., Hoboken, NJ 07030. Email: [email protected]; Twitter: @padrehoboken.

Grieving advice

Carmel Galasso, who will lead the bereavement support group of the Ministry of Compassion at St. Henri Church in Bayonne, offers this advice to those who are grieving:

  • Acknowledge your pain.
  • Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
  • Understand that this is a process, not a quick fix.
  • Keep a journal of your feelings or to express your thoughts to the person you are suffering from; say what you haven’t had a chance to say.
  • Plan something you enjoy as a hobby; go for a walk.
  • Accept support from family and friends.

Details …

The St. Henry’s Church Compassionate Ministry Bereavement Support Group will meet for six Tuesdays beginning at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Parish House, 82 W. 29th St., Bayonne. To join the group, call the parish office at 201-436-0857, Ext. 110.

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