I tried 3 different grief support groups this week. Each was very different, which is probably a good thing since we all have different needs. I do wish there was one specifically dedicated to widows/ers because I believe what we face is very different from those who have lost a parent, sibling or child. There are some widow-specific groups in other parts of the country, but I haven't found any here in Southern Nevada.
The first I attended was an informal newly bereaved group at hospice. There were only 4 of us there, plus the facilitator. All were widows; two had lost their husbands a year ago and the other was new to the group, too, and had lost her husband 6 months ago. The facilitator allowed the other new person - who really needs 1-on-1 counseling in my opinion - to dominate the session. I may not have sobbed during the entire hour, but I'm hurting, too, and I just don't have it in me to support someone I just met who was having such a difficult time. Crossed that group off my list.
I've connected with a recent widow through Facebook who lives in Colorado and find it very helpful to see we're experiencing similar things. She's the one who told me about GriefShare (thank you, Patty!). This is a program offered nationally and is nondenominationally religion-based. There are several groups who meet in my area. I initially planned to attend one at a church near my home - but getting from my office on the other side of town took longer than expected and added more stress than I need right now, so I passed on that one. Decided to try another GriefShare group the following evening at a church closer to where I work. Even though I arrived late (the web site had the wrong start time posted), I really liked this group. They show a DVD and there's a workbook and the facilitator (who also lost her husband) was very good. There were two other widows/ers there ... one had been married 41 years, too. Pam, the facilitator, kept things moving and didn't allow one person to take over control of the group. GriefShare involves 13 sessions and you can start at any time, but Pam gave me a set of all of the CDs so I could catch up with the sessions I've missed. I'll be continuing with this group. http://www.griefshare.org/ They also offer a year of daily emails, which I'm finding helpful.
Last night I participated in an online chat support group. I found this one through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society newsletter: http://online.cancersupportcommunity.org/community/community.php
I had to complete a questionnaire first to get into this group and it was a little hard getting started with the chatting - but I will try it again next week. It's facilitated by a professional (who I learned at the very end had also recently lost her husband) and provided some good interactions and advice. It runs 5-6:30pm, so I took my lunch hour at the end of the day (with my boss's permission, since I work until 6pm) and just shut my office door.
I'm attending a Getting Through the Holidays session on Monday. This one is at the hospice Vern was at, which I'm hoping I can enter without becoming emotional. I've requested time off from work in December. Decided it would be best to not be there during all of the holiday party times.
I started going through the sympathy cards - it's difficult and yet the personal messages mean so much. I'm going to try getting the thank-yous out this weekend. I'm feeling like two distinctly different people. There's the one at work that is treated like my life hasn't changed. Co-workers really don't want to know what this is like and they sure don't want to have to deal with me crying, so I put on a 'happy face' and act 'normal'. Then there's the real me that I can be when at home ... the one who doesn't get out of her jammies and just stays inside, not answering the phone or the doorbell. "Cocooning" was a word used during last night's online chat group. I like that.
Somewhere in the pile of papers I have stacked everywhere is my new AAA card. I need to find it because Vern's Mustang is out again and I want to get a Florida tour book so I can make some plans for that trip. The card in my wallet expired in May ... sigh. Add to that a speeding ticket I received this week from a very nasty motorcycle cop. I sure got my quota of tears in that morning. But it actually turned into a really nice day as I got to visit with several of the 'old-timers' I used to work with at our treatment plants and had lunch with two fabulous co-worker friends. My ups and downs continue.