I really truly love my bereavement group. We meet on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 1:00-2:30 P.M. Since I am still working, I was only attending once a month for the first four months and the fifth month I couldn't make it, because I just couldn't take the time off of work. That month turned out to be my hardest month so far. I then recommitted and have since made it a point to go twice a month.
I felt a profound sense of missing my group when I couldn't make it and they missed me too, which of course felt wonderful to know that I added something to the group. Our group is mainly made up of about 6 or so "regulars" who have all been attending for quite some time, some even for three or more years. I am the newest and youngest "regular." We all have each other's phone numbers. It is true friendship and support.
My last bereavement group meeting, someone new came. We all knew he was new of course but we could also tell that the loss was new. He had that shell shocked, intense look and had a hard time keeping it all in. I couldn't wait for him to speak. When he did start telling his story, my heart went out to him. His wife died three weeks ago. The emotions he was describing brought me right back to where I was when Jeff first died. I attended my first bereavement group meeting about three weeks after Jeff died.
I cried so hard with him remembering the intensity of the void and pain and knowing that his journey will continue to be the hardest and most painful thing for a long time. I had never really cried like that so far in my bereavement group. But I just had so much empathy for him and my own memories and emotions came flooding back.
I hope he keeps coming to the meetings. He talked about his profession, he is a retired homicide detective and he said how used to death he was, but he said this is different, this death is personal. I think he was able to detach himself from death because of his profession, he saw such horrible things. He said he was around so much death, from infants to the elderly, but nothing prepared him for his wife's death and the emotions that ensued.
The majority of the people are so much older than me, about 30 years or so. They are all retired. I think some people don't understand why I keep attending when it doesn't seem I have much in common with these people. But when I missed that month because of work obligations, I really missed it. I really missed the people, I really missed the support, the understanding, the empathy. They might be older, they might have had more time with their loved ones, their spouses, but we all feel the same pain and are going through similar emotions. We all know the feeling. We help guide each through the stages. We help each other navigate the bumpy road. We give each other advice sometimes, but the majority of the time, we are just there to listen and support. It's a safe place to no longer have to be strong. It's a safe place to get understanding. It's just safe and safety brings comfort, which so many of us are lacking now that our loved ones are gone.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of yourself during the grieving process. Sometimes life and the trivialities of it get in the way, but I try to always come back to what is best for my soul and well being. Right now, I need to do the work of grieving, whether that is going to my bereavement group, going to therapy, reading widow blogs, reading grief literature, taking a time out and getting away from it all, taking the time to exercise, or any other opportunity I have to take what I need.
Everybody grieves differently. But just know that others know the feeling and want to help if help is needed, want to be there to listen if you want to talk, we are different because we don't try and fix anything or give advice or platitudes, because we know that those are usually empty words to the griever, because we know the feeling.