Nine-week Divorce Recovery Workshop begins March 18
For more than 30 years, Parkway Heights has been offering a divorce recovery workshop, Rebuilding When A Relationship Ends. The workshop is an ongoing outreach ministry of PHUMC that is open to the community. The nine-week non-denominational program will be offered beginning at 6:45 p.m. Monday, March 18. Meetings are held at The Open Door Community, 2180 Oak Grove Road in Hattiesburg. Programs usually last until about 8:30, but no later than 9 p.m.
This program ministers to individuals who are facing the end of a relationship due to separation, divorce or death and is held once during the spring and again in the fall. The workshop is based on the belief that if given information, guidance and emotional support, healthy people can adjust to the ending of a relationship through separation, divorce or death and experience personal growth.
Lou Ann Morris, one of the presenters along with Carolyn Karlovich, went through the program in 2001 and has continued her support.
Morris said many people who never expected to be in this situation find themselves saying, “I guess that’s me now.”
Morris said going through the program “puts you in a community with people who are experiencing the same thing. People aren’t there to judge you, but to serve as a sounding board.”
“While a person’s family is certainly there to support them, they can be angry and emotional also, which isn’t always very good. Those involved in the program are not emotionally involved like family and friends.
Morris said the program teaches you so much about yourself, the role you played and things you might wish you had done differently.
“It makes you feel better about yourself, and not feel like such a failure,” she said.
One of the things she finds so rewarding is seeing people come in that first week, just devastated and broken, and by the end of the nine weeks to see them with a smile and with hope, even though they aren’t completely healed.”
“Through the years it happens time and time and time again,” Morris said. “That’s why I volunteer and do this.”
She notes there are a lot of sad things that happen in life – loss of a spouse or child, severe illness and divorce is just another one of those things. “It doesn’t matter who you are, how hard you might have tried, what the circumstances are, it just happens, so what are you going to do now?” she asks. “Sure, there’s a lot of good life still left out there and yes, it will be different. It won’t be what you always dreamed it would be, but in so many ways it will be better.”
“I consider the workshop the best gift I could have given myself during what was a painful and terrifying time in my life,” said Janice (name changed), who had been married for 20 years. “My self esteem had taken a blow. This community gave me hope, as well as a road map directing me towards a happy future.”
Thomas, who was married for 16 years, said grief is the most difficult thing we face in life.
“I am so grateful for the Parkway Heights group that led me to understand and work through the grief I was in,” he said. “My life, and my children’s lives are better because of it.”
Susan admits she was devastated, broken, and hopeless when her marriage unexpectedly ended after 31 years. “Today I am enjoying and loving life! I credit ‘Divorce Recovery’ for helping me climb out from a deep and dark place.”
While Parkway Heights UMC used to be the only church they sponsored such a program, many other churches in the community are holding their own workshops, using similar type programs.
This particular program is held at The Open Door Community, where a variety of groups are meeting, because this is a recovery program like the other events that take place there. “It’s just a nice fit,” Morris said. David Sellers, an associate pastor at Parkway, heads up The Open Door program.
Topics include Enduring a Love Relationship & Rebuilding, Oh No, Not Me!, Where has Everyone Gone?, The Terrible Feeling of Loss, Letting Go of Past Attachments/Self Worth, Removing the Mask/Redefining Love, Learning to Trust Again/Developing Relationships, Challenge of Being Single/Sexuality, and Free to Fly, a celebration dinner.
Morris said they do emphasize confidentiality. “Many who come through the program are still in the legal channels,” she said. “We are not there for legal counseling, but are there for emotional support and to help through the healing process.”
The program is not pastor-based. Program presenters include a variety of people from throughout the community, including people who have successfully traveled this path and complete it, as well as professionals such as counselors, ministers, attorneys.
While the program is billed as a divorce recovery workshop, persons who are separated, have lost a spouse through death and other circumstances are also welcome to attend.
“This program puts you in a community of like people and gives you hope,” Morris said. “It shines a light where there is a lot of darkness. After all is said and done, you come away knowing so much more about yourself.”
There is a nominal fee for the cost of the book, but scholarships are available upon request and free childcare is also available upon request.
“We don’t turn anybody away,” Morris said.
Anyone interested in taking part in the program should call the church at 601-544-7873. For more information visit facebook.com/divorcegriefrecovery