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The Beginning Experience




What is B.E.?

The Beginning Experience

B.E. is a program for those who have suffered from the loss of a spouse or significant other through death or divorce. It is a weekend retreat that provides a nurturing place for people to deal with the pain of loss.
It helps you feel the necessary feelings, deal with denial and anger, work through the pain, and begin to hea, so that you can move on to a new life filled with hope. A person who attends a B.E. Weekend comes away forever changed from the compassion, understanding and love that he or she experiences during the weekend.
B.E. is designed to be a time of closure on the past and the starting point for a new beginning for the future.

The meaning of the B.E. Logo:

  • The CROSS: Symbolizes identification with Christ's death and his resurrection. It means we can have a new life after our loss and grief.
  • The ANCHOR: Is a symbol of hope.
  • The RISING SUN: A symbol for the beginning of a New Day.
  • W e also use the Butterfly as a symbol of rebirth and transformation.


Click on the Topic's anchor below for more information:

What is The Beginning Experience???

About the B.E. Program

How B.E. Began.

Who can attend a B.E. Weekend?

How can you apply?

My personal testimony about B.E.

How to find out about the B.E. Program nearest you.


About the B.E. Program: 

The Beginning Experience is a weekend program designed to help the widowed, separated and divorced make a new beginning in life. It provides an atmosphere in which persons suffering from a loss can come together to reevaluate themselves and their lives, and move on to the future with renewed hope. 

Yes, it is a spiritual program. But it doesn't preach, nor does it seek to convert you to Catholicism. It is a wonderful program that lifts your spirits and fosters spiritual growth as well as allowing you to work through your grief so that you can move on with your life. You come away from the B.E. Weekend feeling energized and wonderful.

Beginning Experience is a ministry to the lonely and bereaved , carried out by a trained team of volunteers. Their work is done at special weekend gatherings which encourage participants to share their need, and deal with the natural process of grief and loneliness.

Present at the weekend are participants such as you who have suffered the loss of a loved one -- volunteer facilitators who themselves have suffered a loss and attended a B.E. weekend, gone through training, and come back as a facilitator; a counselor or therapist, and a Priest (some teams also include a minister).

The facilitators (group leaders and former participants like you or me) share their own experiences of pain, grief, and healing. These sharing sessions are followed by individual reflection and small group discussion.

  The loss of a loved one through separation, divorce or death are among life's most traumatic experiences. Millions share the often unbearable pain this loss brings -- the pain of loneliness and grief. All too often, they don't know others who are in the same boat, and feel that they are the only ones going through this pain. When this happens, they feel isolated in their singles lifestyle and sometimes even feel left out by their church. They feel uncomfortable around their married friends, and don't yet have single friends. They don't know how to reach out and ask for help, and even if they did, they don't know where to go for that help. Through the Beginning Experience program, that help is available.

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How B.E. Began

B.E. began in Texas. The first B.E. Weekend was held in October 1974. Sister Josephine Steward and Ms. Jo Lamia perceived the idea based on a letter of closure that Ms. Lamia wrote to her ex-husband after her divorce under the counsel of Sister Josephine, a professional family counselor. Since then, B.E. has spread worldwide and has helped thousands of people begin a new life with hope.

Although B.E. is sponsored by the Catholic Church, it is open to all denominations. Many times more protestants attend than Catholic. Even those without a church affiliation are welcome. It is truly a beautiful experience in which hearts are healed and lives are changed.

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 Who can and should attend a B.E. Weekend??? 

  • Persons who are separated, divorced or widowed.
  • Persons who are past the initial feelings of severe anger, depression and despair which naturally follow the loss of a spouse. If you are deeply depressed, or still extremely angry, you should wait a while in order to get the most out of the program.
  • You need to wait six months after your loss before planning to attend a weekend.
  • If you are in therapy, you need the approval of your therapist, which simply requires his or her signature on a form certifying that he or she feels you would benefit at this time. People in therapy are accepted, so please don't let this factor deter you. Most therapists are glad to see you wanting to attend because they recognize the value of a B.E. Weekend.

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How you can apply:

B.E. is usually found in medium to large cities because it takes a number of committed facilitators on a B.E. Team to plan and carry out a weekend. It is not uncommon for people to drive over two hundred miles (and even into another state) to attend a B.E. weekend. When you get your application, you fill it out and mail it in. Someone on a team will contact you and tell you everything else you need to know.

Call national headquarters for a B.E. Team and Weekend nearest to you.

National Beginning Experience Phone Number:
Kathleen Murphy is the Executive Director


Prices of the weekends vary with each B.E. team. The program is non-profit, and you will be charged only for your food, lodging, and actual expenses. If you don't have the money (as many people suffer from an income loss during a divorce), please apply anyway. Sometimes scholarships are available. At the time I attended, a weekend cost around $80.00, but it may be more or less, depending upon the location. It may help you to know that the team members also pay for their weekend while they are there helping you. It is the most valuable investment you will ever make.
You owe it to yourself to attend... it will change your life forever. If you cannot afford to pay the entire amount, please don't let this keep you from attending. Some teams may provide "scholarships" which help to defray part or all of the cost in cases of hardship, and some teams let you pay as you are able.

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My Personal Testimony about B.E.

When I went on my B.E. weekend, I had been separated from my husband about 11 months. I went on a February Weekend, but had applied for a weekend in September. One of the things I learned from my experience was that you go on the weekend that was meant for you, and because of the delay, I am convinced that February was the right time for me.

I wanted to go, yet I was hesitant. I had heard it was a wonderful experience and that it would help me, but I felt uncomfortable not knowing what to expect. I needed help because I was very much devastated (try "basket case") by the ending of a 28 1/2 year marriage.  I felt like such a failure! I had fallen apart and cried all of the time.

The first night, I was unsure that I wanted to stay. I was unhappy and a bit put out by all of the people. The facilitators (the people who work on the B.E. team who themselves were once where I was that night) were so "together" that they bothered me. The other participants looked so calm and acted so confident that I felt like I didn't belong.
Later, I realized that they felt as lost as I did.
I didn't think I would get anything out of that weekend because of my desolate state. But I was there, so I decided that I had to make the best of it. I'm glad I did. It changed my life.

As the weekend progressed, things began to change. I kept hearing, "Trust the Process". After the weekend was over, I realized what the "Process" was. It was a marvelous succession of events that worked towards a final culmination of events that worked a miracle on nearly everyone who was there.

I can't tell you the details of the weekend because it has to remain a mystery so that it will unfold as it is planned. I can tell you that it enabled me to get in touch with my feelings. It helped me to be able to share with others and let me learn about their losses, which made me feel like someone understood what I was going through. I realized that I wasn't alone. I began to understand and deal with things that were happening in my life. It helped me to understand the grief process, and the importance of passing through every phase and working through each one of them. It started me on a path of spiritual growth and faith that will be with me forever. And finally, it gave me hope.

When it came time to go home, I didn't want to leave. The change that had come over me was evident on my face. The facilitators said that they could see the change in me; they said it radiated in my face. And it did. I had a glow which permeated my entire body and soul.

I went on to work as a B.E. facilitator for nearly three years. Each time I went on a weekend, I worked more on myself. I continued to grow and heal. The participants helped me probably more than I helped them. But I can tell you this much... If you attend a weekend, and participate fully, working hard, sharing, and expressing your feelings, you will have the opportunity to start your life anew. It will change you forever.


How To Find the Beginning Experience Program
Nearest You

Call the national B.E. Office for the Team nearest to you. There are Teams in 36 states and approximately 45 teams worldwide in English-speaking countries including England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
The phone number is:


You will be given a contact phone number for a person you can call for an application and for dates for their next weekend. 


Click on the link to the National B.E. Website where they have a listing of all of the Teams with a link to a person to contact.

The Official B.E. Website:



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More of My Divorce Recovery Links:

[My Love Story][Comes The Dawn][On His Plan For Your Life][Dealing With Grief]

[Garden of Peace and Serenity][Prayers for Serenity and Peace]

Return to my Divorce Recovery Main Page

This page was created May 14, 1998, Updated 8/10/06


Some material about B.E. comes from The Beginning Experience Program