2013 Write-Up: Helping Filipinos Understand Grief

by: Kitten Perez, St. Luke’s Global City

The EPCALM Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines, in cooperation with St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City  and the Philippine Cancer Society, held a two-day Grief Management Conference entitled “Understanding Grief:  The Healing Journey” on 10-11 May 2013 at the Henry Sy, Sr. Auditorium.  The conference sought to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to deal with the realities of grief, and care for the gravely ill with compassion, guided by Biblical principles.

EPCALM Grief - May 2013 - 50454Main resource person was Mary Ellen Erickson, Co-Founder and Program Director the US-based GriefWorks, a bereavement resource for support and education.  Other speakers included Rev. Isagani V. Deslate, Senior Pastor of UCCP-Ellinwood Malate Church; and Dr. Lourdes Ladrido-Ignacio, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry of UP-Manila.

The conference tackled topics such as the Dynamics of Grief, Tools to Promote the Healing of Grief, Caregiver Grief:  An Occupational Hazard, Living with Life-Threatening Illness, Pastoral Care, and Ginhawa and Wellness.

Filipinos who grieve oftentimes keep their pain and emotions inside as grieving in the Philippine culture is sometimes considered taboo, and asking for help seems embarrassing.

“There’s no way out of grief except through it.  We grieve many kinds of losses. Every change is a loss and every loss must be grieved,” Erickson said, adding that “The best way you can do for a person who is grieving is to be a listening heart, a compassionate listener without trying to fix, without trying to problem-solve.”

“Just listen to the stories over and over again, as they need to be told and shared to dissipate the pain. I challenge you to do the work of grief, and to be a caring presence for a friend whose heart is broken,” Erickson said.

EPCALM Grief - May 2013 - 646Singer and television host Martin Nievera, who selflessly lent his support to the project, entertained the audience with a variety of inspirational and classic songs.  Talk show host Boy Abunda also shared his personal insights on grief and losing a loved one during his one-on-one interview with EPCALM Founder and Board Chairman, and SLMC-Global City Department of Medicine Head Dr. Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre.

EPCALM Grief - May 2013 - 692ONE-ON-ONE.  Celebrity endorser and “King of Talk” Boy Abunda interviews Dr. Erlyn Demerre on her experience of losing a loved one and going through the grieving process.

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LEARNING EXERCISE. Mary Ellen Erickson (right) requests the audience to share their experience of coping with grief, through structured learning exercises. Also in photo is EPCALM Executive Director Emma Magsino.