Thursday, August 30, 2007

Rachel's Vineyard offers support for people grieving losses in life

Preparing for this column, a question came to mind: "Do women and men continue to grieve these types of issues in their senior years?” Do we mistakenly believe that, as we age, these memories simply fade away? Perhaps many of us buy into the old saying: "Time heals all wounds.” The contrary is true.

Associate Director Susan Lepak of the Office of Family Life in Oklahoma City provided insight on this emotional, often overlooked topic.

"It's quite typical,” she said, "for grieving to surface 20-plus years after an abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth or placing a child for adoption.” This is because women finally reach a time in their lives when they are not so busy raising a family or pursuing a career.

"Menopause contributes, too. They look back at occurrences during their reproductive years, and may experience grief over choices that led to the loss of a child. Sometimes having grandchildren may also trigger grief.

Lepak coordinates a weekend retreat called Rachel's Vineyard. It is a supportive and nonjudgmental process in which women and men can explore their feelings. Lepak said, "Mourning and grieving are necessary milestones that must be passed so that our lives can continue.”

The weekend is open to men and women of all ages and all faiths. Attendees are usually between ages 40 and 60. Some attend as singles, and others are married couples.

Though many participants have experienced the wounds of abortion, the weekend welcomes those who have lost a child for any reason including death, adoption or miscarriage.

Lepak said that men should not be discounted. Their grief for a lost child is real. Like women, their wounds are often shrouded in secrecy. Society expects them to "get over it” and just move on; to be tough. But they need emotional and spiritual healing, as well.

Rachel's Vineyard retreats are offered throughout the world. The Web site is . In addition to information about retreats, there is a list of suggested reading material and other support groups. Lepak said she welcomes phone calls at 709-2707.

My dear father would have been 92 years old this month. He had a saying that I think is applicable here. "I have a pickup truck full of should-haves, and it's taking me nowhere.”

Stuffing regrets in the back of our "pickup” postpones our grief. It will eventually resurface and demand our attention. Help is a just a phone call away.


1 comment:

CRUSTY MOM-E said...

What a beautiful post. I really enjoyed it and I will definitely be back for more!
I hope that soon you'll have your wonderous bundle some day when the graces are placed upon your womb.