The power of grief support
By Jenny Filush-Glaze
As a grief counselor working in a world in which death occurs daily, I have become privy to some of the “tricks of the trade” in which people attempt to approach grief. Not that I am saying there is a simple solution, in fact I’m saying just the opposite because grief in itself is undeniable “tricky.” Case in point, what works wonders for one person really doesn’t do a thing for another, and what is needed by some is simply discounted and overlooked by others. However, one thing that continues to baffle my mind is the absolute lack of numbers of the bereaved showing up to support groups.
Many times, I am told by those who are grieving that “I don’t do well in groups”, or “that’s just not for me.” And yet, if they just make the effort to come one time, they often discover that a support group “is” for them and they cannot understand why they waited so long to give it a try.
One answer I have for this goes back to the word “uncomfortable.” In general, people just aren’t comfortable sharing their most intimate and raw feelings with others. Making the decision to join a grief group also solidifies that the death has occurred and attending a group such as this makes things feel “too real” and can be extremely painful. But, my argument is always that grief is going to be painful anyway, and it is most definitely difficult to navigate, so why not attempt to share that journey with others? If we experience other setbacks in life, we seek information and guidance, right? So why is the idea of attending a support group immediately discounted by so many?
Weakness. That is a word that continues to push my buttons because knowing that people choose to “not seek help” because they think it is a sign of weakness literally breaks my heart. Why is talking about our grief with others met with so much judgment, both by others and from within ourselves? Did you know that addressing your sadness and issues faced along your grief journey instead of stuffing them away or pretending that they don’t exist is actually a sign of strength?
How did we become so focused on maintaining that “I’m fine” mentality that we overlook the possibility of receiving help in a timely manner? But guess what? You are not alone, which again proves my point as I see empty chairs in group support settings when instead, they should be filled with those who are wishing to rediscover hope and find answers about grief that have left them feeling stuck or lost.
So for all of those who are grieving, no matter how much time has gone by, consider joining a support group- those in attendance and myself will certainly be glad to welcome you with open arms.