FACING GRIEF: Del Marie McAlister at her Ballina home with her book about dealing with grief.
FACING GRIEF: Del Marie McAlister at her Ballina home with her book about dealing with grief. Patrick Gorbunovs

She helps them ‘sail the dark’

"AN UNKNOWN voyage into uncharted waters on a dark and foreboding sea" is how bereavement counsellor Del Marie McAlister describes the grief of losing a loved one.

Losing two siblings to cancer and her father to a heart attack gave Mrs McAlister an intimate understanding of the pain of personal loss.

But it was a stint as a chaplain in a nursing home that ignited her interest in guiding people through their own bereavement experience.

"I realised I was very passionate about helping people with their grief journeys, and decided to channel that passion into my local community," she said.

Now working as both a funeral celebrant and bereavement counsellor, she has recently self-published a book: Goodbye: Journeying Through Bereavement.

She's also created a workshop series, The Goodbye Program to support and guide people through their journeys of personal loss.

"It definitely is very unpredictable and at times a completely overwhelming voyage," Mrs McAlister said.

"People need someone to come and listen to their story.

"Having a compassionate companion journeying by your side makes the journey less perilous," she said.

"No one has the ability to fix a broken heart, but anyone can come alongside them and offer a listening ear, a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on."

Mrs McAlister said bereavement wasn't a process which could be cut up into stages like many popular grief books tried to do.

"No two people will grieve with the same intensity for the same length of time," she said.

"Most people first feel shock... then there's sadness; some people feel angry - but there's no set formula when it comes to going through grief."

"It's a very personal journey."

On top of writing her book, she has also recently started a support group after people approached her at a recent suicide memorial day.

 

For information about support groups in Ballina please phone 0404644468



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