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 | GriefShare Spokane

GriefShare Ministry

Supporting Those Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

In 2005, shortly after his ordination as a deacon, Rod Popiel was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Spokane. His pastor asked Deacon Rod if he would minister to the widows in the parish. He contacted several who assured him they were “fine” and “did not need anything.”

With the untimely death of Deacon Rod in 2009, his wife, Arlette, became a widow herself and discovered that widows do indeed have needs, especially as they journey through the grieving process. Arlette’s healing journey began when a friend invited her to a GriefShare support group, through which she learned to walk the journey of grief and be supported along the way.

What is GriefShare, and how does it work? GriefShare is a 13-week support group program that offers advice and encouragement on different grief-related subjects through videos presented by trained counselors and people who have grieved the loss of loved ones. Each participant receives a workbook with short, scripture-based daily meditations that they are encouraged to use to help deepen their relationship with God and receive his healing help. The weekly sessions feature 35-40 minute videos followed by a time of sharing.

GriefShare group leaders are trained as facilitators, but they are not professional counselors. They are simply people who accompany others who walk the journey of grief as they have. All GriefShare groups must be church-sponsored.

As a result, several years later, Arlette and her friend Gloria Reidlinger began a GriefShare program at their parish. They had to be adaptable when COVID-19 prevented their being able to meet in person. GriefShare began allowing the weekly videos for the program to be viewed online, and Arlette started a fully online group that met by Zoom. Later, a local funeral home offered space and subsidized the cost of the materials, allowing meetings to be held free of charge and in-person again under the sponsorship of her parish.

Arlette is deeply grateful to those who assist the GriefShare ministry, including St. Peter Parish and its pastors and staff, Hennessey Valley Funeral and Crematory, her current and past ministry team members, and especially those who have participated in the program. Moreover, she likes to think that God and Deacon Rod are smiling about her carrying on the grief ministry that Deacon Rod was asked to begin so long ago.

GriefShare outreach in the Catholic community is growing. Recently, St. Mary Presentation Parish in Deer Park has begun to hold sessions. Holy Cross Catholic Cemeteries will be hosting a program at Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, sponsored by St. Peter Parish, on Tuesday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon, starting Jan. 18. For information or to sign up, please call Arlette Popiel at 509.979.2255 or Rita McNeilly 509.944.1991. Their team is also willing to assist any parish that would be interested in offering GriefShare. GriefShare is held internationally. Other times and places that host GriefShare may be found at