Q) What is Beginning Experience?
A) Beginning Experience is an international peer ministry for adults and children who are widowed, divorced or separated. The support programs offered through Beginning Experience invite resolution of the grief experienced with the loss of a spouse. They provide comfort and support, an opportunity to evaluate one’s self and the loss and then a way to close the door gently on the past and move ahead with confidence and well-being.
Q) How often are programs held?
A) The Beginning Experience Weekend is held two times a year; in spring and fall of each calendar year. The 10-week support programs are held three times per year, with sessions beginning the second Wednesday of September, the second Wednesday of January and the second Wednesday of April.
Q) Is it a Catholic program?
A) Although Beginning Experience was founded by a Catholic nun and a Catholic school teacher, it is non-denominational and open to participants of all faiths.
Q) What is the Beginning Experience Weekend and how long does it last?
A) The Beginning Experience Weekend is for adults grieving the loss of a love relationship through death, divorce or separation and are ready to come to terms with their loss and begin to move forward with their lives. This is the core program and the foundation of the Beginning Experience ministry. The program starts on Friday evening and ends late Sunday afternoon.
Q) Where is the Beginning Experience Weekend held?
A) It is held at St. Benedict’s Retreat & Conference Centre (two miles north of the Winnipeg Perimeter Highway off Hwy 9).
Q) Is there support after the Beginning Experience Weekend?
A) Yes, there is follow-up support after the weekend and participants are encouraged to attend the weekly program.
Q) What are the weekly programs?
A) The weekly support programs are 10 week sessions that are held three times a year. There are 3 core programs – Continued Beginnings (Weekend follow up program – 5 weeks); Coping with Life Alone & Vision & Leadership. Additional programs – Rebuilding & Building Happiness.
Q) Where are the weekly programs held?
A) They are held at Soul Sanctuary, 2050 Chevrier Blvd, Winnipeg, MB.
Q) Who can attend?
A) Anyone who has been married or in a common-law relationship can attend. Individual programs have been designed for people who have had a recent loss of less than six months and those of over six months. We frequently have participants whose marriages ended up to 20 years earlier and who had never been able to resolve their grief until participating in Beginning Experience.
Q) Is Beginning Experience a singles club to meet and date other singles?
A) A popular belief is that one way of resolving the pain, loss and loneliness is to seek out a new relationship, to “get back out there”. We encourage you not to enter a new relationship during the grieving process and give yourself the time it takes to heal. Beginning Experience policy does not allow facilitators or coordinators of this ministry to date program participants, out of the respect for the vulnerability of a person going through grief, and to allow each person the time and space necessary to resolve the grief and achieve the potential for self-growth that is so often a part of the grief experience. Our program provides a safe, social atmosphere for its participants.
Q) I don’t want my next marriage to fail like my first. Is there hope for me?
A) Research and experience have shown that some 60% of all second marriages end in divorce and there is an extremely high failure rate among relationships begun before the grief of the previous relationship is fully resolved. When the grief process is short circuited you are deprived of the opportunites for healing and growth during this important time in your life. In contrast, the remarriage success rate among participants who have completed the Beginning Experience program is close to 90%.
Q) What happens on the Beginning Experience Weekend?
A) Participants listen to a series of presentations, take private reflection, and share in small groups. It is an opportunity to re-evaluate your life, feel acceptance among peers, open to healing and trust, and start to move forward with your life with new hope and energy.
Q) What is the cost of Beginning Experience?
A) The cost of the Beginning Experience Weekend is $275. This includes your Weekend materials, meals and lodging. The cost of each weekly program is $80 which includes your books and workbooks. No one is turned away because of an inability to pay or a lack of funds. We have time payment plans for those who are struggling financially and individual situations can be discussed with the Weekly Coordinator.
Q) What makes Beginning Experience different from other programs?
A) Beginning Experience is unique in the fields of peer ministry to the widowed, divorced and separated. Its well-structured programs are both psychologically and spiritually sound, having been designed and developed by respected professionals in the fields of ministry, grief psychology, education and organizational process. Beginning Experience provides for its lay ministers a comprehensive training program, which has been a pioneer in the field of ministry to the widowed, divorced and separated. It has continued to improve from use and refinement over three decades.