One of the best things about participating in a grief support group is the relief that comes at the realization that, finally, “I’m not alone”. There are others who can relate and who understand.
Knowing that you’re not “crazy”, and that other people have shared the same thoughts, and acted in similar ways. This safe haven where everyone else nods in agreement as you tell your story–what’s happened, where you are now, and as you wonder, what comes next?
With the right group and the right facilitator a grief support group can be one of the safest and most comfortable places to be.
And while I spend so much of my time encouraging people to participate in a group for just that reason there’s a second part of this that’s all very important to ask – what happens when we leave the cozy space of the group?
And by leave I don’t mean when we stop participating. I mean from week to week or month to month, we go to the group, share and talk and feel supported, and then we’re out the door, back into real life…then what? The work that happens in the group needs to come home with us and make a positive impact on the rest of our lives as well. If the only benefit of a group was that we felt supported for two hours a month, that wouldn’t be very helpful at all.
As a facilitator my greatest hope is to send participants home with the tools they need to move forward, and even more importantly, the tools they need to communicate to those around them what they’re going through, how they’re REALLY feeling, and what they need to heal.
I know not everyone can make it to a group or counselor. Some people don’t feel up to it, or have transportation issues, childcare/work conflicts, or simply don’t feel like they’re a group person. Sometimes grief support is found by going online, participating in forums, or reading articles about grief.
So in the spirit of facilitating the “group” that is reading this article, I’d like to try an exercise we do at the grief support groups I conduct.
While we spend our meetings sharing, the biggest thing that come out of talking to others is the self discovery that happens and the things we have learned about our own grief experience. No matter how well we’re doing, or how good a support network we have, I think everyone has something they haven’t shared about their grief as they are going through it.
So our challenge as we leave the comfortable nest of the group and head back to our real life? To take something we’ve learned and to educate someone in our life about it. Choose the person you want to share with, and think about what you want to tell them.
It all starts with the words, “I want you to know…”
- Maybe it’s telling a spouse after the loss of a parent, “I want you to know…that I am crying whenever I’m alone”.
- Or telling a friend, “I want you to know…how grateful I am for all that you’ve done for me”.
- After the loss of a spouse, and trying to hold ourselves up and be supportive of the children who miss the mommy or daddy we used to be, “I want you to know…I will smile again one day”.
- For the friends and relatives who become awkward or seem to not know what to say any time we see them, “I want you to know…how important it is for me to still hear you talk about him and to hear his name”.
Give it a try. Repost this article to your Facebook page, and let your friends and loved ones know what you want them to know.
Or if you’re a little more old fashioned (like me) just give them a call or tell them in person.
Because I want you to know…they want to know how you’re really doing.
Not everyone can make it to a group- or if you do go to a group or meet with a counselor, you may still feel that more help and support is needed during those “in-between” times.
This is exactly the reason Grief in Common was created. We are open and available – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let our members be your grief support group. We’re here to help.