1. Do you have to be a catholic, or even a Christian, to participate in BE programs?
Though Beginning Experience was started by two people of the catholic faith, the ministry is non-denominational, and all faiths, even those without faith, are welcome. The only requirement for participation is to have lost your partner through separation, divorce, or death.
2. How often are our programs held?
We run the “Coping With Life Alone” program twice per year – in the spring and fall. Immediately following each set of Coping classes, a BE Retreat Weekend is conducted. These are usually held on the last weekend of April, and the last weekend of October. Once you have completed a weekend, you will be eligible to take other programs; some are offered semi-annually, others bi-annually.
3. Where are the programs held?
Most, including the retreat weekends, are held at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Sarnia. Others may be held at individual members’ homes.
4. What is a BE Retreat Weekend?
A retreat weekend runs from a Friday night through the weekend to Sunday afternoon, and is designed to provide some tools and help guide you through the grieving process. You would spend two full nights, plus a Saturday and most of a Sunday cloistered at St. Andrews Church in Sarnia. All meals and other necessities, such as mattresses, shower facilities, etc. are provided. You will be guided in your journey of healing by former weekend participants who volunteer their time and experience to help you. We host two of these per year, and they are meant to be the culmination of the process you started with the “Coping With Life Alone” classes.
5. Who can attend the programs?
Those who have experienced the loss of a spouse through separation, divorce, or being widowed are eligible to come. In rare circumstances we allow those who have lost a parent or a child to participate, as the premises our ministry is based on will aid them in healing as well. We prefer individuals wait 4- 6 months after their loss before participating in our programs.
6. What is the cost?
A set of 6 “Coping With Life Alone” Classes costs $50. Some of this goes to the International Ministry, and the rest helps us run our programs. A BE Weekend costs $150, and this covers the cost of food, accommodations, fees to the International ministry, and Sarnia BE operating expenses. Any of our other programs cost $40 each. No one will be turned away – if you do not have the money we can still help you. We only ask that you pay what you can.
7. What makes us different from other grieving support organizations and professionals?
We rely on our members to guide newcomers through the process because the pain of loss is still fresh in their minds, and they are better able to impart the process of healing because of that. Their wealth of experience helps bring a level of warmth, caring, and understanding to the process that you might not experience with other organizations, or even with grief support professionals.
8. Who should make a beginning experience?
The Beginning Experience is designed to be a time of closure on the past and a new beginning in the present. Persons who come should be beyond the initial feelings of anger and despair which usually follow the loss of one’s spouse. They should be to the point of desiring a new beginning, and they should be ready to work to make that desire a reality.