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†† PARISH LIFE

is no roadmap for grief. I’m learning how to go on with life in baby steps, but my grieving has been very difficult,” she said. “The spiritual and emotional support I’ve received from my fellow support group members has been truly amazing.” Chaplain Ray Claveria, facilitator for the support group at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, said he formed the group in February of 2016 at the urging of Father Frank Martinez and Deacon Ron Martinez. Claveria was a Chaplain for 11 years for the CHRISTUS Hospital System before retiring in 2017. A certified chaplain and Christian counselor, he is set to receive his doctorate in theology later this year. “After the loss of a loved one, we experience a wide variety of feelings and emotions,” he noted. “The ever-changing emotions we experience with grief can catch us off guard, causing us to act out of character, or differently than our typical personality and demeanor. We all need a support system to help us as we move through our grief journey.” Gonzales praised Chaplain Claveria for being there during the most difficult time in her life. “He is always there to talk by phone when I might experience a trigger event that brings a wave of grief which seems

overwhelming at the time it is happening,” she said, through tears. “Chaplain Ray has such great empathy for us that makes it so easy for us to express what we are going through.” Grief can be never-ending for some, explained Gonzales. She recommends the grief support group for anyone who has experienced a loss, no matter when the loss occurred. “It doesn’t matter if your loved one has recently passed away or it has been ten years; it’s important to get help,” she added. “I feel strongly that God put Chaplain Ray in my life to help me get through this.” Joan Bostwick, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Church in Falfurrias, first attended her parish’s grief support group meeting three years ago after the loss of her father. She was even able to get her mother to join her for a couple of sessions. “My mom passed away last year and in the three years since I first went to a meeting, I have lost nine extremely close family members. It has been difficult,” Bostwick said. “It was healing for me to share what I was going through. Attending the meetings was an eye-opening chance for me to learn what I do and don’t have control over on a daily basis.” Bostwick added thanks to the tools used

in the program; she also learned one doesn’t simply “get over” a loss of a loved one. “Within the last three years, I lost my adoptive parents, as well as my birth mother. One of the things you learn in a group is you are never alone. Everyone at these meetings has either lost a spouse, child, parent or someone close to them. It helps to know someone else is feeling what you are feeling,” she said. Chaplain Claveria added grief support groups offer a special kind of companionship from others who have also experienced loss. “In a culture that often avoids talking about loss, support groups give you the opportunity to share your story openly and guilt-free. You also have the opportunity to hear the stories of others and talk about coping day-to-day, as well as on the most difficult days of our grief journeys,” he said. For more information on the Grief Support Ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, call Chaplain Ray Claveria at (361) 947-8146. The group meets every Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. More information on the Grief Support Group at Sacred Heart in Falfurrias can be found by calling the parish at (361) 325-3455.

Janie Gonzales shares a funny memory of her late husband, Eddie Gonzales, during a recent Grief Support Group meeting at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Corpus Christi, while fellow support group members Gena Lerma (center) and Tess Gonzales (right) laugh along. Rebecca Esparza for South Texas Catholic 28  South Texas Catholic | November 2018

Profile for South Texas Catholic

November 2018 - Vol. 53 No.10  

In our November issue, we feature the Quinto Encuentro Team who represented the diocese at the National Convention, their experiences and th...

November 2018 - Vol. 53 No.10  

In our November issue, we feature the Quinto Encuentro Team who represented the diocese at the National Convention, their experiences and th...

Profile for diocesecc