While Parkite Mandy Demmert was in the process of going through a divorce last fall after 13 years of marriage, Laura Behnke, Mountain Life Church care and connections director, suggested she sign up for DivorceCare.
Behnke told her the 13-week, faith-based support group, which will start again from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, via Zoom, would help with the healing process, Demmert said.
“I went in with no expectations, but as I attended the classes, I found that they walk you through each of the natural emotional stages of divorce, and, with a Christian basis, help you through those steps,” Demmert said.
The classes showed Demmert what she was going through and reassured her that she wasn’t the only one grieving the loss of a marriage.
“The classes also showed me how to go through the grieving stages, and also let me know the importance of moving on and not getting stuck in one of those stages,” she said.
The weekly groups are facilitated by Marci Morse and her husband Dave, who have each experienced their own divorces in the past. And although they facilitate the group, they are not licensed counselors, Morse said.
“We do fall back on our experiences as we lead the classes, but that doesn’t mean everyone in the class has gone through the same experiences,” she said. “Our own experiences just gives us a different understanding of what people are going through.”
The group examines a different topic each week, according to Morse.
These topics range from the different stages of grief that include anger and depression but also give insight on finances, child care and single sexuality, she said.
“In addition we look at future relationships, forgiveness and reconciliation, which deals with moving forward in a healthy relationship with a former spouse,” Morse said. “Since the groups are faith based, we also discuss what the Bible says about divorce, and how we can become close to God.”
The lessons are preceded by videos and reading assignments that come with registration. And after each chapter, there are worksheets that help drive the lessons home, Morse said.
Sometimes Demmert would look ahead and feel the upcoming lessons wouldn’t apply to her situation, but after participating in the class, she felt differently.
“I began to reflect on where I was emotionally, and even though I thought I was over being angry or hurt, I found that I wasn’t quite past those emotions,” she said. “Sometimes that was hard for me, but in the long run, it led to more healing and, eventually, to the place I’m at today.”
Demmert still uses the tools she learned in DivorceCare in her everyday life.
“Once you have processed through the grief of losing a marriage, you will still come up against some of the issues that resulted in being a single parent,” said Demmert, who is a mother of three pre-teen girls. “You will learn a lot about yourself. The classes cause a lot of self-reflection, and you find ways to become a better person with yourself, your children and others.”
Morse enjoys facilitating the classes, because she loves helping others. Her motto, which came after an incident when she was in college, is: “We’re not put on Earth to see through one another, but to see one another through,” she said. “I can support others and help them move forward.”
DivorceCare is one of many programs Mountain Life Church offers to the community, said Behnke.
Other programs include grief support for those who have or are experiencing loss, and one titled Celebrate Recovery for those struggling with addictions, she said.
“Divorce, which is something to not take lightly, may be popping up more frequently because of COVID-19,” she said. “There are many families who have been stuck in the same house for months, and the pandemic has brought on financial burdens, job losses and external things that can put a lot of stress on a marriage. The ideal thing is for people to work things out, but if they can’t get to that point, we’re here to help.”