Friday, October 29, 2010

Support Groups

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.  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:
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.


Anonymous said...

Glad you are linking this to FB now. Makes it easier, for me anyway. LOL
I think you are right as far as grief being different, depending on the loss. It's very different losing a grandchild than a spouse, yet the loss is still very deep.
Glad you and Patty connected. that's a good use of the networking site! Meeting others who are going through the same thing is important.
and I like the "cocooning" word. Very appropriate as I have felt the same way.

A Myeloma Widow's Journey said...

Thanks, Kathy. I debated about making the FB connection, so I'm happy the link helps you.

I didn't mean to imply that one loss is better or worse than the other. They are all very deep losses, but each presents different issues to have to deal with. I'm struggling with all of the financial/paperwork decisions widows must make, along with having no one to help with the everyday problems that confront us (leaky water line, appliances breaking, car not starting, etc.). And then there's that aloneness that greets me each time I walk into this house. The fact that I've never lived alone plays a part in all of this, I know, so I'll just take it a day at a time and 'cocoon' as long as I need to.

Ginny said...

I'm glad to hear you are exploring support groups, and that you may have found a couple that will work for you. What you are walking through isn't easy, yet from what you write, it seems like you are making good decisions as you work through your grief. Taking it one day at a time is how we each should live our lives, not worrying about yesterday since we can't change it, and not concerning ourselves for tomorrow, for worrying will rob us of whatever joy we have today. (Hope that doesn't sound trite.) God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Dianne, I understand. I also had a problem linking mine with FB, afterall, these thoughts can be so private.
I went with wordpress and now I'm thinking maybe I made a mistake. But there are some things that are much easier on wordpress but I'm more familiar with blogspot. Hey! Maybe I'll just have 2 blogs! LOL

Susie Hemingway said...

I really do think it will be months if not years of ups and downs, one step forward to recovery and then one step back. If we are really honest, does someone ever really recover after all those years of a loving relationship?
I think and I believe and I have said this before, perhaps we just learn to live along side this pain. Now that sounds all doom and gloom but I do not mean it this way. I think we place these painful feelings into a compartment in our heart and manage the rest of our life 'around them'. It will take months for you to feel a certain happiness but one day you will wake and say this is not a bad day today, I will be able to manage today. You have such amazing memories about your dear Vern, ones that are so precious and perfectly yours. Speak to him daily and please dont expect too much from these groups, peace will in the end come from inside but it will take many months yet. xxx Thinking of you always, every day and my prayers for you x