When someone important, like your husband dies, everyone in your life has a tendency to ask….”are you speaking to anyone?…I mean professionally?” Dancing around the subject of “hey there, you have been sad long enough, maybe you should seek professional help.” Oh sure, everyone means well, telling you what you need in your life to make it better. And maybe they do to some degree, but to another degree, I think they just feel awkward around you, and think that if you go to counseling then maybe you will snap out of it, and be their happy friend again and everyone can just move on as if nothing ever happened. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against counseling, hell, there was apoint in time when that was the profession I was aspiring to, I guess I just resented the feeling that I was being shoved in a direction I didn’t want to face.
About 3 months after my husband passed, after much prodding from others, I forced myself to sign up for a group. I was able to find an organization called GriefShare. It is actually a great program, and I would highly recommend it. Coming from a counseling background, I was not really keen on the idea of group therapy, the wounds were too fresh, and GreifShare made the situation much more palpable. The program had an agenda for each session and the cycle of sessions ran for 13 weeks. Each session had a topic, like ‘Guilt and Anger,’ or ‘Why,’ or tackled the concepts of afterlife and heaven. The organization was Christian based and we spent time focusing on God and leaning in to our faith for answers. It really was a great deal of help to me. I would go once a week and we would watch a video, have a group discussion that was based on both the video and our homework. Homework consisted of reading from our workbook and answering some personal study and self-reflection questions. Honestly, I needed the structure to help me deal with the wide range of emotions in my head that were spinning out of control everyday. Grief Group is a good thing.
If I am being completely honest. I cannot recollect much about the videos or the workbook or the actual assignments, other than to say they were helpful and aided in lending me some focus and direction. But that does not mean I didn’t get anything out of the experience. I met a group of women, albeit older than I, that had similarly lost important people in their lives. We all had similar and differing experiences, and we all had a sadness that we could now let show for 1.5 hours a week. This was not a “cry-fest” and we did not sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. This was not AA or Group Therapy. This was a group of women discussing how misunderstood we could be around our family and friends. The women in my group understood how hard it could be to sit in church for the first month hearing your loved one’s name announced, from a list of names, when the parish is asked to pray for the deceased. They understood and laughed with me when I told them the Voter’s Registration Office sent my late husband a letter (addressed to him) stating they received a report that he was deceased and they were revoking his voting abilities unless he could prove otherwise. They cried for me when I recalled the gymnastics competition where I publically broke down in front a large crowd because my child’s father would never be there to see her recieve any more awards or ribbons or accolades. These are stories that friends and family don’t really want to hear, friends and family want everything to go back to normal. (Normal, again with that word, I really have grown to hate that word.) A normal that would never, ever be again.
Things I have learned from the Grief Group experience.
- Sometimes it is a good thing to put structure and organization to the crazy emotions that want to take over
- Listening and being listened to by others who are also going though loss can be a good thing
- Having a place to go and express some of the weird, or frustrating, or heartbreaking things that happen on the grief journey can help you get through the week minimally scatherd
Sometimes we get caught up in our grief and what we need, our expectations of our loved ones, that we don’t consider nor remember that they have lives too. And all they want for us is peace. Grief can be all-consuming, it can make you selfish and lose focus on the needs of your friends and family. Sometimes a little outside help can ease your burden and burden you put on others.
In summation, Grief Group is Good. I would not encourage anyone to shy away from the experience. I would, rather, encourage anyone who has lost someone close to start moving forward, not alone, but with a little help from others on your same path.
*If you are looking, or are interested in GriefShare, you can find a local group on their webiste: https://www.griefshare.org/