Hornell support group assists people with grieving - Catholic Courier

Hornell support group assists people with grieving

To gauge the true attendance of grief-support sessions at Hornell’s St. James Mercy Hospital, one must double the amount of people who meet the eye.

Deacon Bob McCormick, coordinator, explained that participants are accompanied in a sense by the people for whom they’re grieving.

"I always like to start meetings with them introducing their deceased loved one, who they are and what they did," he said, adding that "they often bring a picture, sharing that picture and what that person meant to them."

St. James Mercy offers two grief-support groups to help those who have recently lost loved ones or are experiencing extended grief due to a loss. One meets the second Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. (next meeting is July 14), and an evening group meets every second and fourth Monday at 7 p.m. (next meetings are June 14 and June 28). The groups are nondenominational and open to all.

Deacon McCormick said participants have ranged from teenagers to senior citizens. Newcomers may attend meetings alongside people who have been coming for several years. Sessions consist of prayer, quotations from writings related to grieving and a considerable amount of time for open discussion.

Deacon McCormick said some people may feel like talking and others prefer to listen — but the most important factor is that they’re united with folks who can relate to their struggles and thus help in the healing process.

"There are people who have a definite need in their hearts and they don’t know how to address that. This kind of ministry helps them do that," said Deacon McCormick, who is a chaplain at St. James Mercy and also serves as deacon at Our Lady of the Valley Parish.

He observed that attendance tends to rise during what would have been celebration periods with loved ones.

"There are times, particularly during the holiday season and anniversaries, that people need to talk about how much they miss them, how they’re going to get through the day. Those are particularly difficult," said Deacon McCormick, adding that people who appear to be severely depressed are referred for professional help.

Deacon McCormick said participants come from the Hornell area and beyond, including one man from Bath who had such a positive experience that he started his own grief-support group closer to home. According to Deacon McCormick, he is among many people who originally came to the St. James Mercy sessions in search of support before evolving into supporters themselves.

"In fact, there are times I can’t make it (to the meetings) and (participants) have actually facilitated," Deacon McCormick said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on grief-support groups at St. James Mercy Hospital, contact Deacon Bob McCormick at 607-324-8153 or bmccormick@sjmh.org Other Southern Tier initiatives related to grieving include a widow/widower support group that meets every Wednesday at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Elmira (call 607-733-1084); and the Wounded Healers’ Bereavement Support Group Inc. that meets monthly at St. Mary Our Mother School in Horseheads, with the next meeting on July 13 at 7:30 p.m. (call 607-796-2795, visit www.woundedhealers.com or e-mail whbsg1@aol.com).

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