As the first Bereavement Consultant for the Catholic Cemeteries and Crematoria, established under the archdiocese of the Catholic Church in Australia, Therese attended the 2015 Association of Death Education and Counseling where she spoke with Dr. Gloria Horsley about her work and this new position in the church. Therese’s experience with bereaved families stretches back decades, starting when she was just 18 and worked in a hospice. “I was immersed in how to really care for the dying and bereaved there,” she says. Under the tutelage of nuns, she was taught that no one should die alone and has carried this compassion with her throughout her career.
Therese also has her own experience with grief. “I had a brother who, when he was nine years old, fell off a horse,” she shares. This was in the late 70s, and her brother was diagnosed as “brain dead.” Soon after, the doctors asked her parents if they would like to donate her brother’s tissues and organs—they agreed immediately. At that time, “there was very little support for them in their decision,” which is why Therese now specializes in working with organ/tissue donation issues as part of her new position.
The Role of the Church in Grief
“Things are done differently now, thank God,” she said. A few years ago, Therese’s other brother died in a car crash along with his wife, leaving five children behind. These experiences have shown Therese exactly what people need in their grief. For girls and women especially, she believes people should reach out and be open to communication. “I was very blessed that I had that experience” as a young girl, she says, but noticed nobody else in her family had such an experience.
“A ministry of presence” that listens is paramount to grief. Find out more about this new position and what Therese has planned by visiting their website.