Fairhaven Blog

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Grief Support Groups - Why or Why Not?

- Friday, January 22, 2010

“I didn’t want to go to a grief support group,” a young lady who lost her husband in a car accident admits to the group.

“You know, I didn’t want to go either,” this time from a dignified woman in her sixties, who had lost her husband several years ago.

The rest of the group is quiet, yet they are all nodding their heads, as if in agreement. All of the group seems glad to be part of the group. They all share, and they all get an affirmation of their feelings.

I am confused by the fear or avoidance of a grief support group, however. I hear these types of comments so frequently. Why would you not ask for help? Most groups are either free or some nominal dollar amount. So what is the reason? I started to think about all of the reasons I have heard from people to avoid this type of help;

"I didn’t want other people to see me cry."

"I did not want to be reminded of my feelings, because it hurt too much."

"I thought I should be able to figure this out on my own."

"My family will help me to get through this."

"I will get over this eventually."

There are probably many other reasons for not going to a grief support group. However, I look at these reasons and my heart goes out to all of the people not getting help for their grief. There is no cure, no magic solution or any words that will make the pain stop. However, there are people out there who will listen to your story, share their story, and help you through a difficult time with their support and caring. So, I will give my arguments to all of those reasons I listed for why you would not go to a grief support group.

1) It is okay for people to see you cry. They will probably be crying also. Sometimes, there is nothing better than to have a good cry with someone else who understands.

2) Suppressing your feelings can be very harmful to your health, and can keep you from going through the grief process, which is a natural process for all of us. Acknowledging your feelings, and expressing them can be helpful.

3) I thought I should be able to figure this out on my own. If we broke our leg, we would go to a doctor. Why shouldn’t we seek help when our heart is broken?

4) My family will help me to get through this. Sometimes your family is trying to get through their own grief, and can’t help you. It is not their fault. Grief is a difficult emotion, and can affect us in many different ways.

5) I will get over this eventually. Sometimes we never do, for many reasons. While I have been at Fairhaven, I have received many unusual calls. I will never forget a call from a young lady who’s mother died seven years before this phone call. She wanted to be sure that there was a marker on her mother’s grave. She had been unable to visit the cemetery for all of those years. I wanted to help her with her grief, however, she did not seem to be reaching out to help herself.

So many people minimize the impact that grief can have on our lives. It is a very powerful emotion. The closer you were to the person you’ve lost, the greater the impact. There are usually so many wonderful people who can help you. Reach out, and grab a hand. Go to a grief support group. There are so many to pick from. If one is wrong for you, try another. You may meet some nice people, as well. Ask for help. You will be glad you did.

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