Newcomer Voices - Grief Share

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By Almo Mzian

As a newcomer to Canada, my journey has not been simple and easy. Life has had its trying moments. Everything has been changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been many ups and downs in my journey. One of the most challenging things in my life was when I lost the best man in my heart, my father, and the man I loved, my brother. I was not able as a newcomer to process my grief and loss which led me to complicated and unresolved grief because of physical separation and no possibility of being able to mourn with my family and friends. I stopped attending English classes at Mohawk, and I got severe depression. I did not want to go on. I felt like I had lost my mind and my life.  

I have never forgotten thatnoble attitude of my best friend Stephen Crewson when he visited me and gave me a hug to console me. I will also be owing to Mary Anne Peters, the LINC program coordinator, who has not stopped supporting me and helping me with my grief through spending time listening to me and encouraging me to go back to the class at Mohawk College. In addition, I would like to thank the teacher Rebecca Maloney for consoling me by sending me a consolation card that I keep and read when grief visits me.

"Photos from top left to bottom: Mary Anne Peters, Rebecca Maloney and two sympathy card images, Stephen and Tracy Crewson."

Photos from top left to bottom: Mary Anne Peters, Rebecca Maloney and images of a sympathy card, Stephen and Tracy Crewson.


My journey from mourning to joy started when teacher Tracy Crewson found a way to help me through my grief. She never stopped supporting me in every way possible. For me, this marks the beginning. I met pastor Sal from Glad Tidings Church who provided me a free copy of book GriefShare and helped me to register in the grief group that helped me to heal from my grief.   

"Photos: Salem Faraj and GriefShare book."

Photos: Salem Faraj and GriefShare book.


What is GriefShare?    

Throughout our lives, we will all experience some form of loss, whether it be the loss of a loved one or something significant such as a limb, sight, or hearing.  

GriefShare is a support group ministry that helps people heal from the pain of grief. Participants share experiences or concerns and encourage each other. The group supports individuals experiencing loss and grief with advice.  

How can I register in GriefShare, and how much does it cost?    

There are many ways to join in GriefShare; you can visit the web and find a group near you by entering your postal code or city/province. Or you can ask your friends, your pastor, or other leaders of your community. Next, complete the registration process by entering personal information such as your name and email. Note most churches charge a $15-20 registration fee to cover the grief share workbook. If you cannot afford the registration fee, you can talk to the leader to provide the material for you.    

How does GriefShare work?    

I will give you an idea of what grief sharing looks like. The program is 13 weeks, so the book comes with 13 lessons; each lesson has a video of 40 minutes in length that includes personal stories and experiences of people grieving the loss of their loved ones.

After watching the video, you will participate in a session with a support group to discuss what you saw and share your experiences and feelings in grief. Your leader will help the group members through their experiences to heal successfully from their grief. 


Photos: GriefShare brochure.


The last part in the personal workbook is individual study, answering the questions and using your notes for weekly journaling to check up on your healing progress.   

Sharing my experiences in the GriefShare   

I had an apprehension to participate in grief share sessions. I was extremely nervous about being at grief share. I had challenges expressing my feelings, understanding the videos, Canadian culture, and the group members who took part in my grief journey, but the group's people were as a family. It was a safe place for speaking, crying, and expressing how I was feeling. Most of the people in my group had the same grief feelings. I was not the only one who suffered from losing someone I loved. In the grief share group, I learned a lot of strategies that made me understand the reality of my grief, which has caused me to take my grief as a friend who visits me occasionally, but without making me down.  


"Photo: five hands holding each of them a maple leaf."

Photo: five hands holding each of them a maple leaf.


Even though a Christian Church runs the grief share program, you are welcome whether you are Christian or not. However, this program is based out on the Bible, and it will help you a lot to have someone who knows the Bible very deeply to guide you and support you during your work in the program. This guide will help you to make connections to what the Bible says in your grief journey. You are not alone in this grieving process. Members of the group will listen, be available, and uphold you in prayer. I strongly advise newcomers and all people from all beliefs (and people who do not have faith) who are suffering from grieving to join and benefit from this program which will help them on their journey from mourning to joy.   

Finally, allow me to thank from the bottom of my heart the leader Doreen Kelly from Glad Tidings Church for her patience at that challenging time. She made a positive difference in my life; she never stopped supporting me by calling me individually, speaking slowly, explaining between the lines, and guessing what I wanted to say. I accomplished this program because of her. She has seen something in me that I did not see.

Photo: Maria Makonnen, Doreen Kelly.


Also, I would like to thank Melissa Droughan-Rahimian, Rania Sawaf, and my best friend Jehad Nasser for their condolences to me. Thank you, LORD, for your Love.

Photos: Melissa Droughan-Rahimian, Jehad Nasser.  


Almo Mzian

Almo Mzian is from Damascus, Syria. He is a man who seeks adventure and freedom, and sees beauty in simple moments of life. He loves skydiving and scuba diving. He is currently a student in the LINC program at Mohawk College, Hamilton. He says: “I might not be where I want to be yet, but I get closer every day."

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Newcomer Voices is a space for students in the Programs for Newcomers Department to express their ideas, culture and experiences in Canada. Learn how Mohawk College supports newcomers through free English classes, work-related courses and more.


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