Archive for Grief Support Group – Page 2

The “New Normal” Doesn’t Work For Me

new-normalI don’t like “the new normal” for describing one of grief’s essential goals.

Your grandmother dies—the one who cared for you after school while your parents worked, and made your senior ball dress—and you deeply grieve her loss. She was a best friend. Now your family and friends tell you to find a “new normal” as you struggle with not having one of your lifelong cheerleaders available for a talk.

Your spouse of a more than four decades has died. This is the person you’ve known and who has known you since the first year of college. Many of your friends (most of whom are still married, still a couple, and have no clue how horribly your heart is broken) encourage you to seek out the “new normal.”

Your second child dies on the day of birth. For nearly nine months, the ob-gyn said, “Everything was fine.” And then it wasn’t. The child had a name, had a room decorated, and had an excited family ready to welcome her into the world. Gone. But you’re young, friends say. You’ll get over it, friends say. You’ll eventually reach a “new normal,” they say.

Everyone who dies is unique. We know that.

Everyone’s grief is unique. We understand that.

And after death—as grief batters our souls and we’re eating too much or not enough, and sleeping without getting any rest, and with hearts not just broken but shredded—we long for “normal.”

Normal? Read More →

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On Grieving and Dating

It's only going out for a little conversation and ice cream . . .

It’s only going out for a little conversation and ice cream . . .

Our Grief Support Group Guideline #15 warns, Members shouldn’t date other members while participating in the support group.


That’s not the precise language, but it’s close. As a grief support group leader at a hospice, I spend the first session on mundane tasks like: making sure confidentiality forms are understood and signed; having members respond in writing about their expectations; and—like the dullest of college professors—reading aloud every single do and don’t in the group guidelines.

  • We do want them to silence all electronic devices.
  • We don’t want anyone to dominate the conversations.
  • We do desire confidentiality.
  • We don’t want anyone taking recreational drugs.
  • We do want group members to let us know if they’ll miss a session.
  • We don’t want them to do any dating.

There are more guidelines than these, but you get the idea. Read More →

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A Story: Show and Tell in Hospice

Story signI told the story again.

Should it have a catchy title like The Ex-Con and His Dying Dad or No Restraining Order at Heaven’s Gate? What about the simple: The Last Bath?

Not long ago, chatting with a colleague, one of my memories as a hospice chaplain was triggered.


I’d visited a patient and his family multiple times over several months. As is sometimes the case on a first visit, I wouldn’t have guessed this husband and father had cancer and would die before summer’s end. He was tending his garden when I arrived. That would be the last time I saw him outside. A visit or two later, he stayed on the couch, and eventually couldn’t leave his hospital bed. His loving wife was attentive and so overwhelmed. On several visits, more of my time was spent with her than the “patient.”

With her worries.

With her need to pray.

With holding her hand while a nurse adjusted her husband’s medication or treated places where his skin threatened to break down. Read More →

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