Help and Resources for People in Grief

We all experience grief. When someone you loved has died, or death is approaching, or at the end of a marriage, grief can be a long, lonely process full of pain and questions.

You are not alone, and your parish family is eager to help you. Please call.

Sr. Kathy Stuttgen (608.788.5483 x5) and Therese van Oss are specially trained pastoral ministers who work with all sorts of families coping with all sorts of situations. We also have a lot of lay people in the parish who have been through hard times and are ready to help with listening, prayer, and other needs.

Prayer Chain

We are your parish family, and we will pray with you and your family. Send a Prayer Request or call the parish office whenever you need prayer, and our Prayer Chain will be with you. This is a network of parishioners who pray at daily Mass and in their homes on your behalf.

Support Groups

Many support groups are active in the La Crosse area, including some that are sponsored by the hospitals. Call Sr. Kathy for help selecting a group that will be a good fit for you. If you feel unsure about joining a support group, talk with Sr. Kathy about this.

Guides and Resources for Grieving

Grief can bring on a lot of doubts, worries, and questions, particularly for children. One thing that can help is to read wisdom from people who have experience with grief or other spiritual or healthful insight.

Sr. Kathy and Therese have a library of books, pamphlets, and other resources to help people in grief. To borrow any of these materials, call or visit the parish office. Sr. Kathy and Therese can help you select materials that will be most helpful for your particular situation.

Memorial Photographs are displayed each November.

Mass of Remembrance

Every year in early November, MMOC holds a special Mass of Remembrance to celebrate and pray for those have died. We invite families to bring in a photograph.  As a parish family, we remember and pray for these souls throughout the month.

Silver Circle Luncheons

Four times each year, our Silver Circle group gathers for a delicious pot-luck lunch, conversation, support, and bingo. Luncheons usually take place at 11:30 am on a Tuesday or Wednesday in February, May, August, and November. Watch for an announcement in the bulletin.

Widow and Widowers Luncheon


Grief is a normal and natural, though often deeply painful, response to loss. Each of us experience and express grief differently. The process of grieving in response to a significant loss requires time, patience, courage and support. The grief process has often been described in three non-linear phases—shock, suffering, and recovery. Some people experience each phase only once and some bounce back and forth between the phases. Whatever the course, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. But, the following description will give you an idea of what healthy grieving looks like.

Shock is often the initial reaction to loss. It is the person's emotional protection from being too suddenly overwhelmed by the loss. Making simple decisions during this phase can be difficult. The greatest support you can offer to someone in shock is to sit, listen, and help with basic needs (providing food, warmth, friendship). Shock may last from minutes to days in extreme cases.

Suffering is the long period of grief during which the person comes to terms with the reality of the loss. There is a general sense of chaos and disorganization during this time and the duration of this process differs with each person and depends on the nature of the loss experienced. Some common features of suffering include: Sadness; emptiness; despair; ,anger (at oneself, your higher power, at life, at injustices, and even at the deceased); guilt (for the way you've treated others, for not having been kind enough, thoughts that we could have prevented the loss); anxiety (including panic symptoms and extreme concern for the well being of others); profound questions/confusion about the meaning of life and one's purpose; fatigue; decreased motivation; difficulty concentrating; as well as changes in sleeping and eating patterns. This is often the most painful stage of grieving and one that we instinctively want to avoid. Suffering is necessary to get us to recovery.

Recovery is the goal of all grieving. It is not the elimination of all the pain or memories of the loss. Instead, it is the reorganization of your life so that the loss is one important part of life rather than the center of it. In this phase, you will find that you are resuming your "normal" life and are able to reinvest time, attention, energy, and emotion.

During your time of grief, take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Cry, laugh, talk with others, exercise, sleep, eat food good in comfort and high in nutrition, make time to relax, take comfort in your religious or spiritual practices, resume your normal schedule as best you can, and refrain from numbing grief with alcohol and drugs. Let your friends, family, and coworkers know how you feel and what you need.

Adapted from a message by
Bridgette Hensley
Former Director, Counseling and Testing Center
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Updated 6 November 2016