Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Coming Full Circle

Personal Testimony delivered at Greenhills Christian Fellowship on April 22, 2007

My husband and I lost our four year old son nine years ago in 1998. Migi, who was then four years old, passed away due to complications from an open heart surgery. The loss of a child is a pain too great for words.

Three months after his death, God blessed us with another son. Because I was recovering from childbirth, I stayed home most home the time to take care of our baby and another daughter who was then seven years old. Out of our family’s loss experience, the Lord brought forth a foundation called Migi’s Corner, a foundation that sets up play corners in government hospitals where children in the charity ward can go to play and read while recovering from illness or surgery.

In 1998, there were no workshops or support groups in the country that catered to bereaved parents like myself. Thus, I would find myself surfing the internet for hours, reading up on grief and recovery. Eventually, I went back to graduate school, took a course on bereavement studies and since 2001 have been teaching a course on grief at the Ateneo de Manila University.

GRIEFSHARE, GCF’s grief ministry was born out of that loss that my family experienced nine years ago. Sometime in June last year, my husband Hector and I approached Pastor RG Foncardas about the possibility of setting up a grief recovery program in GCF. Because we had received so much comfort from the Lord during our grief journey, our family wanted to be able to give back that same comfort to other people who had lost loved ones. And because we knew in our hearts that the Lord is the only one who can pull you out of the darkness that is grief, we wanted to share that with others who had been bereaved as well. The church was most supportive and gave their blessings to support the ministry. We had planned on an October launch for Griefshare.

On August 27 last year, I found myself hovering between life and death when it was discovered that I had an ectopic pregnancy. Thus, in the early morning of August 28, 2007 I had to undergo emergency surgery. Thus, even before Griefshare could begin, our family had experienced another loss.

I could not understand it back then and was searching for God’s message. Now I look back and think that perhaps it was another way to prepare us for the ministry we were about to undertake.

On November 2007, Griefshare was finally launched and our first module “graduated” 12 students who were in varying stages on the grief journey when they first came to attend Griefshare. From that initial batch we had seven bereaved parents, three widows, and two people who had lost either parent or sibling. It is not an easy ministry because it is one that demands you to be involved mind, heart and spirit into the lives of your participants. The greatest joy that my husband and I have found is in watching our participants burdens lift as they come to know the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and when they begin to process and understand their own grief.

The recovery is quite visible in marked in others. Initially they come with such heavy laden hearts and you see it in their eyes, their speech, the way they move, in their manner of dressing. Half--way through the 13-week program, you can see the load become lighter, the smiles return, and they slowly learn to laugh again. They start wearing brighter colored clothing, re-invest their lives in new activities, they learn how to pray and reflect, seek Bible studies and begin to truly trust the Lord once more. God truly gives grace for the healing.

Grief is a process that cannot be rushed and GRIEFSHARE does not guarantee that you will be completely healed from your losses after the 13-week program. When one experiences a death, it is like going through a tunnel, the downside is that it is dark but the upside is that there is a light at the end of it. GRIEFSHARE helps its participants begin walking through that tunnel, showing them what to expect while they are in the darkness and at the same time reminding them that there is nothing to be afraid of in the dark because God is there.

A GRIEFSHARE session is divided into two parts – in the first part, participants view a videos where U.S. grief experts who are Christians themselves talk about the healing journey – Dr. Larry Crabb, Dr. Bill Bright, Elizabeth Elliott, Kay Arthur, Barbara Johnson and participants who have been through the Griefshare workshops themselves. The second part is where we come together in a smaller support group to share what we have learned in the video and share what is going on in our own healing journeys. We always end our sessions with prayer and thanksgiving for what has transpired during that day.

If you know of someone, or you are someone who has lost a loved one through death, I urge you to join GRIEFSHARE and begin your journey towards healing and recovery. We meet here every Saturday afternoon from 2-5PM. Psalm 30 verse 5 says, “Weeping may last for a night, buy joy comes with the morning. Loss always takes place for a reason and pain can be transformative if you embrace it. The Lord has promised to one day turn your mourning into joy. To God be the glory. Thank you very much.

1 comment:

Annamanila said...

It is amazing how you have turned your grief into advocacy movement ... to extend to and support other bereaved spirits.

I also lost a son, but that was many years ago ... and still have to synthesize what came out of that painful experience. Certainly, I haven't done anything to reach out the way you did.

I have been reading about Miggy's corner since it began many years ago.