Grief support groups are not for everyone because we are all unique and different. How we handle our losses–from the least to the unbearable–is also unique to us. One solution does not fit all and no one knows what you need better than you do.
But sometimes it helps to be a part of a support group because it helps to hear about how others have dealt with their loss. It is also nice to be in a place where what you have to say about your loss is not judged, criticized or evaluated by someone else’s standards or experience. A place where you can share your story. A place where you can benefit from hearing the stories of others. A place where you can release your pain among people who assure you that this is ok, it is part of the process and they actually commend you for working through the pain instead of going around it to avoid suffering.
Each session began with everyone telling their story because of its critical part of the healing process. It may be early in the grief experience or it may take time to work up the composure to speak of your loss. A couple of critical ideas might help. First, your grief is uniquely yours. No one knows exactly how you feel or what exactly what you must do to move to a point of acceptance and resolve to move forward. Only you can know the answers to those questions and this will come only as you work through your own transitions, make mental notes and progress at your pace.
Second, go easy on your comforters. They mean well but they don’t always say things that are comforting. In fact, sometimes their comments can make you downright angry if you dwell on them too long. “God must have needed him more than you did,” is just one of those horrible examples of well-intentioned but painful comments. God does not need anyone or anything. Plus, God is all throughout creation and to realms unknown to us. Whether we are with him on earth or on the other sides of the pearly gates…He will not leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)…ever.
Out goal is to give everyone an opportunity to share their story among a group of people who will simply listen. At the outset we will go over some basic instructions about how we can be most helpful and not hurtful to each other. During this time we want to stress the need for a safe place where it is ok to be yourself and to be honest. Here is a copy of our handout for you to review beforehand.
Grief Support Group
The support group provides opportunities for hurting people to come together to share, to listen, to learn and to care. Here are some guidelines to help make this a safe time and place for everyone.
1. Confidential – What is said here stays here.
2. Non-Judgmental – This is not a place for being critical or judgmental. It is a safe-haven.
3. Advice Free – Advice is only given when requested. We receive plenty of advice from others.
4. No Pressure – While support groups value talking through feelings, it is ok to be quiet. No one will be ‘forced’ to talk if they do not wish to do so.
5. Listening Zone – When one person is talking everyone else is listening. We do not engage in other conversations at the same time. Cell phones are off. There is no texting during this time.
6. Time Aware – We will begin on time and end on time. Conversations may continue afterwards but the group will be dismissed on time.
7. Time Considerate – We are conscious of the time we need to talk and the energy others expend to listen. We respect the rights of others to have time to speak.
Stephen P. Pylkas, MTh, LMFT
Southshore Counseling, LLC – 734-658-7649