Yesterday I went to a Bereavement Group meeting. The group actually had their first session last Tuesday. I thought about going. Then I thought about not going. Then I thought I should go. Then I thought I probably shouldn’t go. Then I started doing laundry and then the dog needed to go for a walk. Then the View came on and then it was lunch time. And then it was 2:00 and it was too late to go.
During the first few months of my grief, I did try a couple of these types of support systems. I went to the first meeting of each of them. The seating arrangement was the same. We sat in a circle facing one another. I felt as though I were a slice of “of grief pie". We each had white labels with black magic marker letters stuck on our chests, mine carefully placed over my heart. I kept touching it to make sure it was still there.
I recall that I was so intent on silently rehearsing what I would say when it was my turn to speak, that I’m sure I was only half listening to each of the other slices relate their stories.
Even though my ears were somewhat distracted by my own thoughts, my eyes would automatically shift to a new tone of voice. My head would nod in a sympathetic and understanding way.
I don’t remember the specifics of their stories. The images of their pain come back to me in flashes of twisted and scrunched up tissue covered eyes.
After each of these meetings, I would become somewhat defensive. How dare those people make me cry. What did any one of them say that could possibly ever make me want to come back and do that again?
It’s been nearly three years since Joe passed away. Actually it has been two years, nine months and 19 days.
As I said, yesterday I went to my first meeting of this new group. Since I was not there for the first meeting, the facilitator took me aside for a pre-meeting conversation.
She has a kind face and soft voice. As I told her my story, I found myself crying the hard tears of a new loss. She asked me, “Do you know what we do here?” I was puzzled. Of course I knew, we would all sit in the “grief pie” circle and cry. But of course I didn’t say that. She followed up with , “What do you expect to get from this?”
I stumbled over my answer. I told her that I supposed I expected comfort and support.
She explained to me that this place was indeed a place to come for comfort and support. More importantly, though, it was to be a safe place where we were expected to not only explore but share our feelings. Then she said the thing that I think I needed to hear. “You are here to work on you own grief, not the grief of others.” She asked me if I thought I would be able to do that. Then she asked me if I wanted to join the group. I said yes.
The meeting started with us all sitting in a circle. We each had white labels with black magic marker letters stuck on our chests, mine carefully placed over my heart. I kept touching it to make sure it was still there.