Tag Archives: Support Groups

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Grieving Through The Holidays

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The Holidays can be the toughest time of the year for so many. It’s another reminder that the people we loved are no longer around. This could be as a result of a death, break-up, divorce, move or other loss-related event. Instead of crawling up into a ball and hiding under the covers, here are some things you can do:

Don’t isolate yourself – Sometimes the easiest thing to do when we are grieving is hide away somewhere until it goes away. Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. Trying to grieve alone during the Holidays can make it even tougher. Although we don’t have to feel obligated to attend any festivities if we don’t want to, we might consider spending time with a dear friend or family member just so we are not alone.

Talk about your feelings – It’s so easy to just plaster on a fake smile and drag ourselves through Holiday functions. Don’t do it. It you don’t feel like attending the Holiday office party or Aunt Susie’s cookie exchange then don’t do it. Rather than not showing up to these events just let everyone know you are having a tough time, appreciate their offer but will have to decline the invite. Those who love you will understand. You have to do what’s right for you.

Find time to relax  Grieving tends to throw us into a tailspin. The Holidays just add to the craziness. Rather than getting caught up in a hurricane of activities, it’s important to find some time to relax. Take an afternoon nap. Watch a favorite movie. Take a walk. Treat yourself to a spa day. Take a yoga class. Schedule a Reiki session. If we don’t make time to relax we could find ourselves winding ourselves up into a frenzy. This is not good for us spiritually, physically or emotionally.

Spend time in nature – Grief is an energy-depleting emotion. Nature can help to us to replenish our energy. Just taking a walk outside refreshes and rejuvenates us. It doesn’t even have to be a long walk. Go around the block. Look at the beauty in nature around you. Smell a flower. Watch a sunset. Go outside and look at the stars.

Practice self-care – Too many times we put our own self care on hold because we are facing grief. Did you know that grievers have a higher incident of illness and accidents? This is why it is important to try and take care of yourself as much as possible. If you are physically healthy, it makes it easier to deal with your emotions. If you are physically, spiritually and emotionally drained you put yourself at risk of getting sick or being in an accident. Be gentle with yourself during this time.

Create a new tradition – Holidays mark special milestones in a family’s life. Often when someone we love is no longer with us it’s hard to face those Holiday traditions that you shared. If that is tough for you, find a new tradition that you can start to honor your loved one. Go away for the Holidays. Visit a homeless shelter. Visit the cemetery where your loved one is buried. Open presents on a different day. Think about how you will remember the life of your loved one in your family’s history and traditions.

Be honest about how you are doing – Sometimes we do things just because we don’t want to be judged or criticized. If you really don’t want to participate in Holiday work or family events then DON’T.  If it makes you sad to be at Aunt Mary’s this year, then DON’T go. If going to the office Holiday party is the last thing you feel like doing then DON’T.  We don’t want the family or co-workers talking about why we weren’t there. But if we are honest and let them know that you appreciate the invitation but it’s just too tough to face the Holidays this year, they should understand. And if they don’t, too bad. It’s about you right now and what you are going through. It’s not about anyone else or their expectations of what you should be doing.

Ask for help  It is okay to ask for help especially when you are grieving. When things are “normal” we run around like superman and superwoman. We multi-task all day and collapse exhausted in bed at night. But when we are grieving our whole world is turned upside down. We can’t think. We can’t react. We can’t speak. We can’t sleep. Grievers have a higher incident of illness and accidents due to these facts. Trying to do everything yourself is just asking for trouble. Reach out. Even if it is just asking someone to sit with you while you talk or cry. Maybe it’s having a friend drop off dinner on their way home from work because you forgot to go to the grocery store. Maybe it’s asking another parent to take the kids for a few hours so you can actually get some much needed sleep. Asking for help when you are grieving is far better, definitely safer and certainly healthier for you than trying to handle everything yourself!

Share your memories – It is very comforting for a griever to talk about their loved ones and share their stories. Make some time to share these memories with friends or family. Have everyone share a special memory that they may have as well. Bring out those old home movies or photographs. Watch your loved one’s favorite Holiday movie. Cook your loved one’s favorite Holiday meal. There are so many things you can do to keep those memories special.

Take one day at a time  Don’t stress yourself out by thinking too far into the future. Just take it one day at a time. You may not get everything done and that’s okay. Let friends and family know that it’s just too tough this year. And if you chose not to do anything at all then that’s okay too.

Honor your sadness – Society has placed too many unrealistic expectations on grievers. You have to be finished grieving by a certain time. You have to stop being sad by a certain date. You have to be strong so others don’t know how much you are hurting. These are urban legends. They are so very wrong. If you are having a tough time, understand it is normal when you are grieving. Allow yourself to be sad. Don’t hold back those emotions.

Join a support or bereavement group  Because it’s understood how hard the Holidays can be for grievers, many organizations offer support or bereavement groups specifically during this time. Groups are often offered by churches or synagogues, as well as by funeral homes, hospitals or hospices. These groups may help you to feel less isolated during the Holidays. They provide a safe, supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere where you can talk to each other about what you’re experiencing. After all, one of the most important aspects for a griever is the need to be heard and not feel alone.  Bereavement and support groups especially during the Holidays can do just that.

The most important thing is that you do what works best for you. Not Aunt Sally. Not Cousin Fred. But what works for you.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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Grief Educational Program or Bereavement Group?

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As an Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist® many people have asked me what the difference is between The Grief Recovery Method® educational program and bereavement groups. Since I have participated in both, I wanted to share my perspective.

BEREAVEMENT GROUPS

After the suicides of two friends, no one seemed to want to talk to me about what happened. Because I REALLY needed to talk about these suicides in order to try and make sense of it all, I finally joined a suicide bereavement group. This group was sponsored by a local Mental Health clinic and facilitated by a licensed clinical social worker. It was a safe place for me to talk to other individuals who had also been through the suicide of someone close to them. I was able to share and express the feelings that I had bottled up inside of me. It was probably the best thing I could have done at the time. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders after every meeting finished.  Little by little I started to feel better.

Bereavement groups are also offered by churches or synagogues, as well as by funeral homes, hospitals or hospices. They are mostly focused on death, rather than divorce or other losses. They are open to anyone and are sometimes offered on a “drop-in” basis – individuals are welcome to come and go as needed. These groups help individuals to feel less isolated from society while they are grieving. They provide a safe, supportive, non-judgmental atmosphere where grievers can talk to each other about what they’re experiencing. After all, one of the most important aspects for a griever is the need to be heard and not feel alone.  Bereavement groups do just that.

THE GRIEF RECOVERY METHOD® EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM: 

There are other groups that offer a different approach – a structured program aimed at recovery.  One of those is The Grief Recovery Method® educational program which uses a long-established format based on the principles and actions of The Grief Recovery Handbook. Their format offers a structured action plan to help grieving people discover and complete what was left emotionally unfinished as a result of any loss – not just the death of a loved one. It differs from traditional bereavement support groups in several ways. One difference is it is focused exclusively on recovery from grief, rather than primarily being a place for sharing feelings. Another is that the program is presented over a period of weeks and is facilitated by Certified Grief Recovery Specialists®. As part of my grief journey, I found the outreach program to help me recover from the unresolved grief that came as a result of my friends’ suicides, as well as the other loss events in my life – like divorce, moving, miscarriage, etc. It became an opportunity for me to complete these unresolved feelings so that  could move on in my life.

Bottom line is that a bereavement group had wonderful value for me. It helped me as a  griever feel less isolated and have a safe place to express my grief. The Grief Recovery Method® educational program helped me move from my grief to recovery. I found both to be valuable as I moved through my own personal grief journey.

Below is a short video describing The Grief Recovery Method® educational program in more detail.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

 


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Non-Traditional Support

Non-Traditional Grief Support

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There is no written law that says you have to find a therapist or join a support group when you are grieving. I looked into grief and loss support after my friend Joy died but never went. When my former fiancé John died, I immediately signed up for a Survivors After Suicide support group. You have to do what works best for you and where you are on your own grief journey. At some point you may decide you want to find support. If so, there are different types. Some are more traditional; others more non-traditional.

Non-Traditional Grief Support

Non-traditional support is outside the “mainstream” of what we are normally used to seeking out when grief comes calling. Personally I embrace these options. I couldn’t have moved forward in my own grief without a combination of the Survivors After Suicide support group, the Grief Recovery Method®[1] and Reiki. Each one provided value in its own way.  These non-traditional approaches to grief and loss are worth exploring for your own journey. Non-traditional grief and loss support includes:

Grief Educational or Recovery Programs. There are some groups that offer a different approach to grief and loss through a structured program aimed at education and recovery. The Grief Recovery Method educational program, for example, uses a long-established format based on the principles and actions of The Grief Recovery Handbook. Their format offers a structured action plan to help grieving people discover and complete what was left emotionally unfinished as a result of any loss – not just the death of a loved one. It differs from traditional groups in several ways. It focused exclusively on recovery from grief, rather than primarily being a place to share feelings. Also, the program is presented over a period of weeks and is facilitated by Certified Grief Recovery Specialists.® I found the structure and action plan it provided to be very beneficial for my own grief journey.

The Dinner Party.[2] In case you haven’t heard about them, The Dinner Party is a non-traditional grief support group which is popping up all over the country. What had begun as a casual gathering of friends became a quest to reimagine and reinvent “grief support,” and the very way we address about loss. The Dinner Party is community of mostly 20 and 30 somethings who have experienced significant loss (older attendees are also welcome). They get together over potluck dinners to talk about the ways in which grief and loss continue to affect their lives. They also talk about how to thrive after loss. Check their website for The Dinner Party location nearest you or sign up to start your own.

Death Cafés.[3] A Death Cafe is a “social franchise” that began in London in 2011 and quickly grew across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It is estimated there have been over 3,155 Death Café events around the world. At a Death Café people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death, mourning and mortality. It is not a traditional support group because there is no agenda, objective or theme. Participants are encouraged to talk about topics associated with death since it has been such a taboo subject to do so. Some events are free; others charge a nominal fee to cover the cost of food and drink. Check their website for a Death Café near you or sign up to start your own.

Bottom line, any type of support you can receive while you are grieving is a wonderful gift. A non-traditional educational program helped me to move from grief to recovery. Even if you chose not to seek help at this time, know there are different types of grief and loss support available to you when (and if) you are ready.

[1] www.griefrecoverymethod.com

[2] thedinnerparty.org

[3] deathcafe.com

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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