Holding hope: Meet Rita Chater, Grief Counsellor, Solo Parents Service

Rita Chater joined us as a Grief Counsellor in 2013, working under Sister Eileen Quade in Solo Parent Services. This service provides counselling support for people who are divorced, separated or bereaved. Rita says this type of work isn’t easy, but it is uniquely rewarding and meaningful.

“I work with adults and children who are dealing with various degrees of grief and loss, often associated with very traumatic circumstances. It’s a privilege to sit with someone and be invited into a space which is profoundly sacred and private. People often share thoughts and feelings with us that haven’t been expressed to anyone else. I feel humbled to journey with people at these difficult times in their lives.”

Rita is passionate and committed to her work for two simple, yet powerful reasons: the passion she has for the work she does, and the belief that she holds hope for those who have lost hope. In her early days as a grief counsellor, one client’s story stood out to her; his words becoming her inspiration for her work in this field.

“We began running a support group for young widowed men and women. From the group’s beginning, one gentleman came to every session, he joined shortly after the sudden, tragic death of his wife. At first, it was very difficult for him to be in the group. However, over time, we noticed small changes in him, his sense of humour and smile returned. After the second year in the group, he said to me, ‘Rita, after my wife died, I couldn’t see any hope, but with the help of you, Sister Eileen and the other group members, I could carry on each month. Now, I can see light at the end of the tunnel, I can see hope for the future. Thank you for carrying the hope for me until I could carry it myself.’ I saw the light and hope in his eyes. It was a profound moment.”

Throughout the years, Rita has journeyed with many people whose lives are torn apart through the loss of a loved one, divorce or immense trauma. It can be easy to wonder, “Is there hope?”, but the words that man shared with Rita many years ago are alive in her heart.

“I like to think that we hold hope for people who can’t see it themselves – and when they are ready, we can give their hope back to them. For those considering a career in counselling, I feel it is a calling. The work is challenging but rewarding. If you feel it’s for you, trust your instincts and the doors will open. It’s wonderful to witness clients experiencing change and transformation in their lives. It’s not all difficult work. We have many opportunities to share laughter and have fun with our clients and staff at Catholic Care Western Sydney and Blue Mountains. I have learned a lot about life, love and loss from the people I meet. This work has made me realise that life is precious. Cherish every moment and appreciate those who are dear to you.”

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