Support groups help during grieving process

Megyn Wirkus, MST

The power of support groups is a beautiful thing. At the Bereavement Center, we offer several grief support groups throughout the month.

On occasion a support group will only have one person attend.  As facilitators, we often hear from the single group member the desire that more bereaved would come to the group as the participant wants to hear other’s stories and know that they are not “going crazy” with their grief reactions themselves. While we enjoy talking with single group members one-on-one and supporting them in an individual manner, we also so badly want to produce additional members in these situations to create the group dynamic one anticipates when they come to a grief support group.

I can remember one time when it was five minutes before group started and there was only one participant at group. I shared with the participant that I was afraid they were going to be the only person at group. I welcomed this individual to stay and talk with me one-on-one and they accepted the invitation. Not even a minute later, multiple people walked through the door. The participant’s faces, while nervous, lit up knowing that other people were grieving too and that the Bereavement Center was a safe place to share their story. Per tradition at the beginning of group, we went around the circle and shared our name and a little bit about our loved one who died. As the facilitator, I sat and watched the members of the group interact and be a crutch for the person who was taking their turn to share their story.

In any group that I facilitate, I take the time to commend the participants for coming to group. It takes a lot of courage to be so vulnerable at such a difficult time in life. I like to acknowledge the courage that it takes to get into the car, drive to the Bereavement Center, get out of the car, walk in the door, sit down in a room with strangers, and then put oneself in a vulnerable place of sharing about one’s loved one and the pain that is being felt inside since the death. Likewise, as a facilitator I also give credit to the participants for practicing self-care and allowing themselves to attend a grief support group. Taking care of yourself during this journey of grief is important and attending a grief support group is one way that you can do that.

I remember a time when the concept of attending a support group as a form of self-care came full-circle as I sat in my office when individuals began coming in for one of the grief support groups. While I greeted them as they walked in, I noticed how many participants were chatting with one another, sharing stories and smiling. I truly believe that in the presence of those going through similar struggles, we find comfort. You do not need to walk this journey alone. If you are sitting there, reading this, and thinking that a group is not your thing, please know that we offer individual one-on-one support as well. No person should have to grieve alone, therefore, one of the bereavement specialists at the Bereavement Center would be happy to meet with you one-on-one and allow you a safe place to share your story and gain support through this difficult time.

I encourage each of you reading this to allow yourself the space to be vulnerable. Look at the support group schedule that can be found below. Think about what it may be like to attend a support group following the death of your loved one. Having someone we love die can be a lonely experience, however, it does not have to be. The Bereavement Center offers several grief support groups that are designed to show that you are not alone in your experience. While each individual grief journey is unique to the person who is going through it, there are similar things that intertwine among stories that are shared and participants are then able to see that they are not alone.

No matter the type of support you receive on your path to healing during your grief journey, please know that we see you. We see your pain and we see your heartache. We also see your courage to face each day without your loved one in your life and we see the love that you will forever hold in your heart for your special person. You do not need to face this journey alone. Please know that the Bereavement Center is here to support you throughout your grief journey.

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