This past week, with a fair amount of trepidation, I attended my first grief class. I had done a little reading about the Grief Recovery Institute, but for the most part, I didn’t know what to expect. And to be honest, I just wasn’t sure that I could handle a group setting. I’m a terribly emotional person, and even with a small group, I envisioned it being awkward and uncomfortable.
Healing a Broken Heart
The premise behind the Grief Recovery Method is that from the time we are children, we’re socialized to believe feelings of loss and grief are unnatural and that we should be tough, move on, and stop crying. This program tosses that illusion out the window, assuring us that everything we are feeling is normal and natural. It also recognizes that grief is cumulative, and it’s about dealing with a broken heart resulting from any type of loss, be it death, divorce, job loss, or any number of others.
I think most of us were raised with the notion that we should be strong, and regardless of what comes our way, we ought to be able to put a smile on our faces and handle it on our own. That’s what we were taught, and for the most part, it’s how we navigate through life. How many times have you been going about your day, noticing other people in your path and thinking, “boy, she is always so happy,” or “wow, he has it together.” We forget that nearly everyone we meet has something going on in his or her life that we aren’t aware of.
Loss After Caregiving
Caregivers, in particular, get to a point where they put blinders on just to get through the day. The emotional toll of caregiving is great, but in the midst of it, we can’t afford to fall apart. Wearing our best game faces, we do what needs to be done; taking care of finances, overseeing or providing daily care, dealing with medical professionals, and coordinating logistics. Crumbling under the pressure isn’t an option. And then suddenly, it all stops… and we are lost.
It means so much to know that we aren’t alone. What I found in that initial class was that I was in a safe place, among kind, caring people who are dealing with grief just as I am. While each story is vastly different, the underlying theme is the same – all of us have experienced profound loss and we want some help in processing it. It doesn’t mean we’re broken or weak; it means we feel a strong need to understand these competing emotions and face them head on.
A New Day
I left the first class feeling just a tad bit lighter and proud of myself for taking a giant step outside of my comfort zone. I feel as though I’m embarking on a journey with a handful of complete strangers, who, ironically, may understand me right now better than the people I’m closest to. A group of empathetic people with very different, yet extraordinarily similar stories – it may be just what I need.
Are you a caregiver who has experienced loss? Leave a comment letting us know your thoughts on grief classes, support groups, and counseling.