Conversations in Grief Blog: They Keep Coming Back
They Keep Coming Back
by Laura Wessels
Rainbow Bereavement Coordinator/Chaplain Laura Wessels leads the Monday Morning Joe group in a broken pot exercise back in November.
Pat has been coming to the Morning Joe grief support group since in-person meetings resumed in August 2021. Yes, she’s been coming for two whole years. She told the group recently that the value of the group for her is its “adhesiveness.” She explained, “I feel glued together after I leave here. I’m more grounded and more able to handle the weight of the sadness I feel.”
The glue that holds group members together and keeps them coming is the glue of understanding. In other places, with other people, they must explain their loss or defend their pain. With a cup of coffee, a bottle of water, or a McDonald’s Slushie, they face their grief shoulder to shoulder. Holding each other up as they explore their feelings and experiences, along with others who also need this time in their grief.
When grief is held alone, it is heavy. When grief is shared with someone, a few, or many, the load is lighter. Possibly, the load may even become bearable.
After a meeting where the group discussed how their identity had changed after their loved one had died, another regular Morning Joe attendee, Hugh wrote a poem called, "Grief is Not a Disease." In the poem, he identifies what grief is and what it is not. “Grief is not a 24-hour, 1-week, or several-month duration thing like the flu or cold...Grief is just grief, and it is permanent. We don’t grow out of it. We don’t get over it. We don’t leave it behind. We don’t have a miracle drug that we cure it. Grief is chronic, it is an ongoing condition we learn to live with.” (The complete poem is found at the end of my blog.)
When others in the group read Hugh’s poem, their responses included:
“Pretty much hits the nail on the head.”
“My family has such a hard time understanding my grief – this poem is perfect.”
“This poem is so much of what I think and feel.”
“It’s a perfect expression of ‘the way it is’ for those who live with grief.”
The adhesiveness called understanding is why people keep coming back. When they are talking about sorting their loved one’s possessions, whether it is an abundance of coats, flashlights, or phone cords, or exploring how to honor the many special dates that bombard them, they are in this grieving together. And they are in it for the long haul.
They come because their grief “keeps poking” at them, and they need to talk about it. And they come back because they want to be there for the one who just found the courage to show up for the first time.
While I know that support groups are not for everyone, if you are feeling alone and misunderstood as you grieve, finding a grief support group might help. Morning Joe meets every Monday morning from 8:30-10:00, except for holidays, at the Rainbow Hospice Care Inpatient Center in Johnson Creek. A six-week Honoring Grief Support Group will be offered on Monday evenings, 6:00-7:30, from September 11 to October 16, also meeting at the Rainbow Hospice Care Inpatient Center. Register for this group by emailing my colleague, Hilary Furnish at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re not local to southern Wisconsin, check the hospices in your area for grief support groups. I also recommend GriefShare, a Christian grief support group that meets in churches nationwide. Go to GriefShare.com to find a group meeting in your area.
In the brokenness of our loss and grief, feeling like we’re falling apart, we can feel held together by the others surrounding us who understand our heartbreak.
Please reach out to me at email@example.com if you need help finding a group.
Grief Is Not a Disease by Hugh Drennan
Grief is not a disease, yet often we treat it that way.
Folks may say:
“Oh, you’re grieving."
“Well, it will pass."
“You’ll get better.”
Grief is not a virus you pick up, it is not a physical injury you incur, it is not the result of pollution, pollination, or a case of sniffles.
And yet, it can feel like a disease.
It seems as though you have lost a part of yourself, and you have.
It feels like an amputation, something vital to you has been cut off removed, just plain gone.
It seems like you have damage to your heart, like a heart attack.
It is emotional but feels physical, a physical loss.
But it is not a loss of soul.
Your soul is still intact.
That part of you that is and makes you, you.
You have lost your soulmate but not your soul.
Grief is not a disease.
It is not a condition you can cure.
Grief is not a 24-hour, 1-week, or several-month duration thing like the flu or cold…
Grief is just grief, and it is permanent.
We don’t grow out of it. We don’t get over it.
We don’t leave it behind.
We don’t have a miracle drug that we cure it.
Grief is chronic, it is an ongoing condition we learn to live with.
Grief is not a disease.
Grief is just grief.