2022 Grief Retreat

You have strengthened me!

Treating patients for cancer is a daunting role. When cancer does not respond to treatment and the result is loss, family members are left with a gaping hole in their lives.

Loss at any age is difficult; but when the spouse has young children, a full-time job, or unanswered questions, where do they turn? For the past 10 years (minus the two years of the pandemic), co-facilitators Kathy McBeth and Catherine Ceruilli have been fortunate to host a full-day retreat for spouses, partners, and loved ones who have lost someone to cancer. This year, NNECOS generously provided an Educational Program Grant to fund this full-day retreat.

Participants who have attended a grief group or individual therapy say that having the whole day dedicated to acknowledging their loss, in a space with other people who had a shared experience, was so very helpful. 

The goal of connecting with loss is to provide a warm and inviting environment. The retreat offered workshops on writing as healing, yoga mixed with chi gong, sound meditation, and learning self-acupressure. The focus of the day was to listen to the needs of the participants and to provide a safe space to express their feelings in a group of people who fully understand. One of the participants, a therapist, shared, “I would have told you I understand grief and loss because of my training, but once I lost my partner, I realized how little I knew.” Sharing their fears for the future and remorse of the past, facilitators heard more than once from participants, “I wish I could have done more while my husband was in treatment.”  

The NNECOS Educational Program Grant made it possible to provide an opportunity for caregivers to express their grief and to feel fully heard. Facilitators provided tools for self-care and reminded participants that they are not alone. Many of the participants were so invested in caring for their partners that after the death they did not know what to do. “What did I do with my time before he got sick?” is a comment we heard frequently. Together, over the course of the full-day program, attendees connected and formed a network of support that is not possible in a one-hour support group. As one participant shared, the best part of the day was “time to connect with others, to provide and get support, to laugh and cry together.” Another said simply, “It got me out of the house, I got to meet others and share my story.” 

Thank you NNECOS for the opportunity to do this important work.  

“I feel like something shifted after attending the Grief Retreat.  I am living more in the moment and not in the past.”

Do you have an innovative program that needs funding? Apply for a  NNECOS Educational Program Grant! 

Northern New England Clinical Oncology Society
P.O. Box 643
Sandown, NH 03873-0643
Telephone (603) 887-1948

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