I am a Grief Group dropout. I won’t have anyone singing a song about me dropping out. I won’t become a thug and join some gang while greasing back my hair. I won’t even become part of a statistic. But I am one, a Grief Group dropout, and it’s actually an okay thing for me to be as it shows my growth. Let me explain.
About a month back, I joined a grief group for people who spouse or partner had died. A kindred sense of loss, sadness, loneliness and survival existence among the members of this group. It is one of the reasons for a grief group. It’s hard to travel on a journey alone, or with people who don’t understand your experience. It’s not just misery loves company, it’s more of a misery needs company.
I’ve said since the beginning of my own horrific grief journey, the death of a spouse or partner is not the same as the death of a mother, father, sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. I know this since I am living now without both of my parents and my husband. I believe the death of a spouse or partner is a hard pain to live with and through, the worse being the death of a child. That pain is unimaginable to me and one I hope never to experience. I am not diminishing any other deaths, or at least not trying to, but I have experienced the difference first hand. So, there is a certain connection with those going through the same type of pain you are and it can help, only this grief group did not.
In October, I had planned to join a group of people who lost their persons suddenly and violently through accidents and murder. As there is a difference in the grief of the death of your person, there is also a difference in the sudden, violent death of your person. Not easier, not harder, not more or less of anything, just different. As I’ve said over and over, grief is never a contest, not a competition. There are no winners or losers. Anyway, the group in October folded before it started because of lack of participants. After that experience, I wasn’t ready to seek out anymore. It took all or what is in me to put myself out there and agree to be part of that group. When it folded, my courage tanked, until February.
In February, I was ready again, to share and to hear others in a familiar commonality of grief. I sought out two groups. One I couldn’t pull the trigger on, the second one I did and then COVID deflected my bullets of attempts like some sick comic book villain. To be honest, I gave up of ever being part of a grief group. I started to feel like I didn’t need one. Just as everyone grieves differently, not everyone needs a grief group, not everyone needs to share or hear others.
In the beginning of August, the facilitator for the group that shut down due to COVID, reached out to me. I was asked if I wanted to join an upcoming group. I grabbed the opportunity fairly quickly. I am not sure why. Even looking back, it isn’t clear. I think maybe I needed people familiar with a pain that I still felt, even if it wasn’t as raw. Or, maybe I wanted to be part of group of people living in my same struggle. I’m not exactly sure. Whatever the reason, I accept the invitation.
I started the group, and three weeks in, I didn’t feel it was for me. Before I give you my reasons, let me assure you it wasn’t because of the makeup of the group, nor because of the moderator. Everyone in the group was kind, open and most importantly, brave. They had the courage to do something I could not do in the early parts of my grief – share. Yet that was my struggle. They were in the early parts of grief, all of them so new to their grief. They were in the stages I passed. I was even held up a few times by the moderator as an example of where they may get to be later on which humbled me. I was living with the death of Peter for thirteen going on fourteen months and had a grieve counselor all this time. Their hearts were ripped apart weeks, a few months ago. It’s a different type of healing. They were asking questions of ‘how do I even move’, where I wanted answers to the “now what do I do” question. Their pain was new and tender, mine had fermented and processed. We held the same type of pain, but at different junctures. I was not learning from this group. I was understanding them sure, but not learning. It’s like they were on addition, and I am doing multiplication. I already understood the basics and I am ready to move ahead.
I will say this. This group was not for naught. Through their stories, I learned there will always be worse circumstances than my own. Through their shares, I understood pain is different, sometimes even worse or better. Through the group’s period of grief, I embraced how far I had in fact come. And I appreciated, welcomed, glorified their tales of loss, my own story, and the strength gained from keep on keeping on. I know now, through them and me, the bravest thing any of us can ever do is move in, with and past pain. While pain comes in different forms and variances, there are certain one that knock you on your ass. It takes courage to get up and move again. This group showed me my own, and it was powerful, and it was a blessing.
So, yeah, I am a grief group dropout. It’s not to say I am not seeking out a group better suited for where I am at now. Nor am I saying I will. It’s saying for me, this group wasn’t my match. I did benefit from the time I attended. Shared experiences, whether beside you or in the rear view mirror, does remind us we are not alone, maybe just further along than others as well as behind others, on this crazy, reluctant road of widowhood we were forced on.