PAWLEYS ISLAND—Eventually, after a spouse dies, the widow or widower reaches a point where they are ready to let go of the grief.
Those involved with bereavement support said they start feeling strong and confident enough to move forward, but may be reluctant to lose the camaraderie of the group.
Mabel Vervaat, of Precious Blood of Christ Church, said that is what happened to her. So with the encouragement of her pastor, Father Pat Stenson, she decided to do something about it.
She joined with her friend, Betty Roy, whose husband had also passed away, and formed the group Women Alone Together.
“We keep it very simple and open to all the women,” Vervaat said. “We are not a bereavement group, we are beyond that.”
What they offer is fellowship.
They are very active. Vervaat said they have coffee klatches, attend Mass, and go to lunch, movies, theater productions and musicals — all matinees so no one has to drive after dark.
The women also enjoy spiritual outings, such as a yearly pilgrimage to Our Lady of South Carolina — Our Lady of Joyful Hope Shrine in Kingstree, and to Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner for vespers and meditation.
“We laugh and have fun, but we are also there to help with things that are more serious,” she said.
Holidays are always festive, and Vervaat said the highlight of their group is the 12th day of Christmas buffet supper.
Many of the women who participate are widows who were in bereavement support, but they also have single ladies and divorced women.
Vervaat said grief counseling was a tremendous help after her husband died and recommended it as the first step of recovery.
Many churches offer some sort of bereavement ministry, or can recommend an ecumenical group nearby.
When the person is ready to move onto the next step, Vervaat said they should look for another fellowship group to join so the healing can continue.
“Our spouses don’t want us to stand still,” she said. “They want us to continue with all the good things of life.”
See related article, Losing a Spouse: The overwhelming feeling of alone.