Joyful Again!

Frequently Asked Questions
Who attends a Joyful Again! retreat?

Widows and widowers of all ages who are trying to recover from the grief of their spouse's death.

Who conducts the retreat workshop?

Joyful Again! is a peer ministry. The facilitators and presenters are men and women who have also lost their spouses. These individuals have completed training to facilitate groups and conduct the retreat/workshop.

What can I expect to get from attending a Joyful Again! retreat for widows and widowers?

Unlike other grief support groups or widow and widower groups, Joyful Again! is a spiritual program designed to help you move forward.

Many say a Joyful Again! weekend is a “life-changing event” that helped them find acceptance, peace, resolution and the strength to move forward to a more fulfilling life.
How is the program structured?

The program consists of six segments dealing with stages of grief, journey from loss to healing, forgiving yourself and others, children and family dynamics and handling the holidays. It includes video presentations, time for reflection, small group sharing, journaling and optional prayer services.

See more about the weekend.
Do I really need another grief support group?

Joyful Again! is for you, if you have –

  • Been to support groups, but are still asking. “Does it ever get better?”
  • Been unable to resolve guilt issues.
  • Been unable to move on to build a new life for yourself?

At Joyful Again! you will –

  • Celebrate your loved one’s life.
  • Reflect on the impact your spouse’s death has made on your own life.
  • Share your story with trained facilitators and others who also have been widowed.
How long is too long since losing my spouse to attend Joyful Again!?

No matter how long you have been widowed, if there comes a time that you are still feeling or are again feeling the need to process your loss, you are encouraged to attend. Some of the circumstances that may have delayed your ability to grieve immediately after the loss could be:

  • Being widowed with small children that need care and attention, leaving you with no time to address your needs.
  • Being the care person for an elderly parent. Only after their death, when you have time to care for yourself, do you begin to process your spousal loss.
  • Keeping busy, avoiding processing your loss until time is on your hands, such as when your youngest leaves home, you retire, or another person close to you also dies and you realize you have not yet resolved your grief.
Can it be too soon after the death of my spouse to attend Joyful Again?

Joyful Again! is not recommended for those widowed less than 4-6 months. This is most likely too short a time for you to develop a perspective on how many changes have occurred in your life since you lost your husband or wife and how to begin to think of the future.

What are the issues that are discussed?

There is certainly a wide range, as each weekend is shaped by the widows and widowers who attend. By sharing your concerns and hearing from others, you’ll come to realize you are not alone in dealing with the loss a spouse. Confusion, loneliness, feelings of “will this ever get better” are common. You may need to find ways to navigate relationships with your family who may not understand the depth of your loss. Facing birthdays and holidays can be challenging - even finding ways to honor the memory of your husband or wife may cause you distress. You may feel God has abandoned or betrayed you, or you may be experiencing guilt for a number of reasons. We believe you’ll benefit by hearing from others in similar situations and our trained staff.

Your loss is personal.

Regardless of the circumstances or how long you were married, as a surviving spouse, we share a common path.

You can find joy again.

The four people in our video who have experienced the loss of their spouses share their stories of loss, acceptance and moving forward.

Where and when are sessions held?

Joyful Again! retreats are held on several weekends throughout the year at Chicagoland parishes, hospitals, retreat houses, as well as at other suitable facilities. Participants leave after Saturday’s session and return Sunday morning. Occasionally the program is held at facilities with private overnight accommodations.

View upcoming events in the Chicagoland area. There are also chapters in other cities across the U.S.

How much does it cost?

The usual donation of $85, which includes meals and refreshments.

Lodging, when available, is an additional $40.

Cost adjustment may be available in special circumstances.

Can I sign up a family member or friend?

We encourage you to show your family member or friend this website or download our brochure to help begin a conversation. Widows and widowers who are family or friends should be motivated and interested in participating in the program on their own. You can then assist them in registering.

Is this a counseling service?

No, this is not a mental health or counseling service. Our peer ministers may be able to provide information, based on their own experiences, about finding mental health professional or ongoing support groups.

Do I have to be Catholic to attend?

No. Joyful Again! is an ecumenical program. Weekends are usually attended by a mix of people from various denominations. Prayer services are the last item in each day’s program and are optional. They can be skipped if they conflict with your personal choices.

All are always invited and welcome to participate and usually do with positive results.

I was in a committed relationship, but we were never married. Can I attend?

Absolutely. We welcome you to Joyful Again!

How did Joyful Again! get started?

Joyful Again! was designed as a peer ministry by the Catholic Church some 30 years ago. Since then it has widened its mandate to help widows and widowers from all faiths, of all ages and regardless of the length of their marriages. Today, there are chapters in select cities in the U.S. with the hope the program will continue to grow. Joyful Again! is a 501(c)(3) Illinois not-for-profit corporation.

What happens after the weekend?

Joyful Again! is designed for one weekend. We will give you tools and support to begin to heal and move on. We encourage you to reconnect with new friends you’ve made and continue to seek additional counseling or grief support groups if needed.

Volunteer activities with Joyful Again! are available after you’ve completed your weekend so you may help others who’ve lost their spouses.

Can the Joyful Again! weekend be repeated?

Absolutely. Some people find repeating the weekend can be helpful. Everyone’s journey is unique. Other circumstances in your life may cause new emotions to surface.


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