Divorce is always painful and often deeply traumatic. Debilitating grief, fear, anger and other emotions can drive people into social isolation, just when they most need the support and encouragement of understanding friends.
Beginning on Tuesday evening, March 2, Catholic Charities Maine will offer an eight-week support program for Bangor-area residents going through the life-changing experience of divorce. People of all faiths — or with no particular spiritual affiliation — are welcome to participate.
While Catholic Charities has offered the “Divorce and Beyond” program in Portland, Ellsworth and other communities, this is the first time it will be available in Bangor.
Coordinator Bill Wood of Catholic Charities Maine, based in Portland, said Friday that the focus of the group is on coming to terms with the momentous changes brought on by divorce and moving forward.
“These folks are going through a lot of pain,” he said. “We try to nudge them in the direction of life after divorce, to help them say goodbye to their marriage.”
The program is not a place for individuals who are in the throes of deciding whether to end a marriage, he said.
“If people are still in a quandary, this format will not work for them,” he said.
Participants also will not find specific advice or steps to follow. Instead, “Divorce and Beyond” helps individuals work through issues such as grief, anger, self-image and stress management, using short readings each week to guide the discussion.
Meetings will be led by local volunteers who have experienced divorce themselves and who have received special training in group facilitation.
The Catholic Church discourages divorce, but there are many misconceptions about its ramifications, Wood said. For example, he said, divorced Catholics may attend Mass, take Communion and otherwise participate in their faith communities. If they wish to remarry within the Catholic Church, however, they must seek an an-nulment of the first marriage. While the “Divorce and Beyond” program can address such technical issues, he said, the primary aim of the group is helping participants make emotional progress.
“This is an opportunity for people to work on personal growth,” Wood said. People in all stages of divorce have participated in the program, Wood said, including some who have been divorced for 10 years or more. It’s also not unusual for people to go through the program more than once, gaining new insights each time and offering to newcomers the benefit of their personal experience.
The cost of the eight-week program is $25 and preregistration is required. Meetings will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays. In order to protect the confidentiality of participants, the meeting location will be disclosed to participants only after they register.
For more information or to register, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 871-7464, ext. 2672.