Group to help people of all faiths deal with grief

From left, Dennis Xuereb, Sister Judy Herold, SSND, and Barbara Marsden review the Grief Share workbook prior to watching a video. They are preparing for St. Anthony Parish in Davenport to offer a grief support group.

By Anne Marie Amacher

DAVENPORT — To help people deal with grief after the death of a loved one, a new grief support group is forming this month. A 14-week program that will be used in the support group is sponsored by St. Anthony Parish. People of all faiths are welcome to participate.

A core group has been working since the beginning of the year to offer the support group. Planners are Sister Judy Herold, SSND, St. Anthony’s pastoral associate; Barbara Marsden, Dennis Xuereb, Carrie Delcourt and Diane Rogers.

“Our intent is to help people who are suffering from grief by the loss of a loved one,” Sr. Herold said.

As St. Anthony Parish prepares to open a new parish hall next year, it has been looking to add more programs because space will be available to offer them. Two programs that topped the suggestion list were grief support, which begins Sept. 29, and a prayer network, which began in July. 


Grief support sessions will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesdays in the St. Anthony School library. The final session will be held between Christmas and New Year’s, when people need support the most.

Grief support group organizers researched different programs available and invited Father Jim Vrba, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wilton, to talk with them about his parish’s grief support group. The organizers decided on a program called Grief Share, which is Christian based, said Xuereb. Several non-Catholic churches in the Quad-City area use that program.

Marsden said the group decided to limit its grief support effort to those grieving the death of a loved one. Anyone who has lost a relative or close friend within the past year is invited to attend, Sr. Herold said. People may join at any point.

“We’re not going to make you wait for the next session,” Marsden said.

“We want to help people move on,” Sr. Herold noted.

Grief Share offers weekly sessions with a different theme, such as the loss of a child and loss of a parent. Each session begins with a general overview, Xuereb said. A retired physician, he and Marsden, a retired social worker, will facilitate the sessions.  A 40-minute DVD will be shown, followed by an opportunity for individual sharing. “There’s a sprinkling of verses from Scripture in the program,” he added.

Participants use a workbook between sessions for reflection. “We will discuss what they want to share the following week,” Xuereb said.

“It’s hard to go through grief alone,” Sr. Herold said. “We will offer a place that is safe, where you can build trust.”

People grieve differently, but understand what each other is going through, the group believes.

Information about Grief Share is available on its Web site (, along with a listing of participating churches. A participant traveling out of town could join a session at another church site, if needed.

In the future, Sr. Herold hopes St. Anthony’s can collaborate with another parish to offer the program.

For more information or to sign up for Grief Share, contact Delcourt at (309) 786-2590 or Sr. Herold at St. Anthony’s at (563) 322-3303.

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