Archive for Grief Support Group

When Strangers Meet: Grief Support Groups

grief support group

They will see themselves as strangers. But are they?

Less than a week after posting these words, I will begin another first session of a grief support group for those who have experienced the death of a partner or spouse. I’ve led nearly thirty groups since starting work at a hospice in 2012. (Which truthfully means I’m really not an expert, and probably wouldn’t be even if I’d facilitated twice that many groups.)

There will be men and women. They will be stoic. Uncomfortable. Suspicious. Cautious. A few will cry. A few will fight to hold back tears. Though I don’t ask them to say much in the opening gathering, several will be articulate with their responses. Others might barely manage to mumble their names. Some will remain as still as slabs of granite, while others may be in constant motion (feet tapping, hands gesturing, fiddling with a purse). But I predict everyone will focus on what I say, with several hoping I’ll voice some “magic words” to make them quickly feel better. If so, they will be disappointed. Read More →

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Hospice, Grief, and the Well-Dressed Guy

He was dressed for success.

His suit was charcoal gray, the shirt the color of a spring sky, and the tie was snappy. The shoes were shined into mirrors. I figured, since this was my hospice’s grief support group that met mid-day (for those 55 and over), that he was coming from work.

Or maybe the fellow was retired and chose to wear his “Sunday best.” My father, long after his final days of full-time work, frequently donned a nice shirt and cinched up one of the ties he’d worn years before. Until his cruel dementia stole nearly everything about him, Dad might add a sports jacket or color-coordinated sweater to complete the look.

Some guys, office bound or happily retired, like to maintain appearances.

My new group member did.

It was the first session. Read More →

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Don’t Let the What-ifs Hijack Your Grief

What-if questions haunt us. After a loved one’s death, the what-ifs can feel like a vice squeezing our hearts. But they finally ease their grip as the clock keeps spinning and the calendar pages turn.

What if the what-ifs keep troubling us?

They can randomly and relentless disturb us, like odd noises jarring us awake in the depths of night. What if . . .

  • he’d quit smoking years before?
  • she had gone to the oncologist earlier?
  • they hadn’t given that last dose of morphine?
  • you hadn’t flirted with the passenger on the plane?
  • you’d said, “I love you” . . . instead of “Leave me alone?”
  • the family had attended church (or temple, synagogue, or…) more often?

Are what-ifs like an airborne virus? Mirriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines disease as:

“a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” [Underlining is mine.] Read More →

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