Archive for Grief Support Group

Hospice & 3 Guys: Guy During Grief

Guy grieving

Three guys.

They didn’t know each other, and they only knew me in the briefest and most problematic of days.

One Was Dying. Another was Near Death. The third was During Grief.

I think of them now, years—and decades—later, equally grateful and humbled for what I learned while spending time with them. As always, I will try to change a little or a lot of their story to disguise each guy’s true identity.

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The Guy During Grief . . .

He spoke in every one of the dozen grief support group sessions. I think it was only in the first gathering, where I shared the mandatory material about confidentiality and participant guidelines, that he did not mention a phrase that served as his personal mantra:

Nobody understands me.

And it wasn’t just once during the following eleven sessions that I heard Nobody understands me, but multiple times on a weekly basis whenever we had an open-ended sharing time or when he was responding to a specific question or concern. It could start a sentence or conclude one. Read More →

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On Dating & Grief Groups

Lady and the Tramp

Ahhhh . . . the dating scene from 1955’s “The Lady and the Tramp.”

In the hospice where I work, the Grief Support Group Guideline #16 states: Members shouldn’t date other members while participating in the support group.


Though not the exact wording, it’s close. As a grief support group leader, I spend the first session on mundane tasks such as explaining confidentiality forms, asking members to write about their expectations, and—like the dullest of substitute teachers—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. (No gushers, said a friend of mine.)
  • 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 of fellow participants.

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

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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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