GRIEF can have a very big impact on people and for many years now, the Shannon Bereavement Support Service has been working to support those who have lost loved ones.
It was founded by Sr Benedict Rouine in the early ’90s. Maureen O’Neill is the secretary of the group and has been involved with it for the past decade.
She said they offer help to people for various lengths of time, depending on what they want and require. “We would offer help and support to people who have been bereaved. Also, we will keep in contact with people for as long as is necessary, as long as they like,” she said.
The group tries to make contact with people who have suffered losses and they try to make them aware of what is available. “We try to contact bereaved people in Shannon and although we wouldn’t be trained counsellors, we would all have done courses at Milford Hospice in bereavement. The group has special sympathy cards printed that are offered at home visits. We try to help people deal with grief and when people have been very badly affected we can refer them on to a grief counsellor,” she explained.
Much of the group’s work consists of providing a listening ear to people and talking to the bereaved.
Maureen said the membership level of the group can vary. “At the moment, we have about 12 people but it can be demanding and sometimes after a few years people might want to take some time away from it.”
Two of the main events of the year are masses held for people who have experienced bereavement. “One of the main events we have is a special mass. Before it, we would send invites to all the people around who have had bereavements in the last 12 months. People who have been bereaved in the past are also welcome to attend and we have it in the comprehensive school. We give a candle to each of the families represented and this year we were lucky as the bishop concelebrated it,” she said.
At the mass, a member of the community speaks about their own experience of bereavement and how they dealt with loss.
Another annual event is a mass for parents who have lost children. Following this mass, a parent speaks about how they dealt with the death of their own son or daughter.
The Shannon Bereavement Support Service meets once a month and details of it can be obtained by calling the parish office at 061 361433.