I was recently invited to join a “Grief Walk” with our current Grief and Loss Support Group in Fruitland. I was attending in an effort to take some pictures of our Care Navigators, but ended up getting way more out of this experience than anticipated. Like everyone else, I have experienced loss. As the group shared their experiences and feelings, I remembered feeling many of the same things that they had. I realized that even though grief is so different for each person, there are common threads woven through everyone’s grief.
Grief and loss affect each person differently, but one thing everyone has in common is that they will go through an array of emotions throughout their journey. Denial, shock, confusion, anger, sadness, and guilt all work their way into our lives as we deal with the loss of someone we hold so dear.
“Why did this happen?” “This can’t be happening.” “He has been so healthy.” “The doctor said she was improving.” “It’s advanced cancer?!” “What does that mean?” “He’s dying?!” “What do we do now?” “Where can I find answers?” Questions fill our mind when we are confronted with a terminal diagnosis and the thought of losing a loved one. Along with those questions comes a flood of emotions. These waves of emotions increase in strength and occurrence and they continue long after a person has passed.
The walk took place on a warm summer day. A steady breeze kept us cool as we walked around our facility grounds stopping near signs that listed different emotions associated with grief. As the group stopped at an “emotion” they had a chance to identify how and when that emotion made an appearance in their grief journey. Then they were able to share thoughts with each other in an effort to acknowledge and validate their feelings. They listened to each other and they were able to write their thoughts in a journal. After being able to identify and discuss their feelings, the Care Navigators asked them, “What were you able to do to cope with that emotion?” While listening to their responses, I recognized the healing power of the exercises presented in these Grief and Loss groups.
As we moved to one station, they were asked. “How many of you have experience anger?” At another station, the group discussed how guilt comes in many forms.
The final station was “Moving On.” Ultimately we do have to move on whether we want to or not. Our life has changed and it’s not fair, but we have to learn to move on and live on. By recognizing and addressing the emotions we go through during the grieving process, we are able to slowly work our way through grief.
As I walked away with my emotions starting to build tears in my eyes, I was grateful for this experience. I was so thankful that these individuals were open and honest and that they allowed me to participate in something so personal. Graciously they have allowed me to share their experience in an effort to help others who are experiencing grief. You are not alone. Grief is something we all will, at some point in our life, have to go through.
One of the benefits of hospice is grief support after a loved one’s death, but what if your loved one passed suddenly or without hospice? How can you get support to help you work your way through grief? Heart ‘n Home has an option for you. We invite you to join a Grief and Loss Support Group. These are open to the public and are free. You can find a local group by visiting our website by clicking the News & Events section. Just like with this group, bereavement counselors will help you navigate your way through the emotions of grief. If you have experienced loss, your life has changed, but with the help of our counselors, you can learn to not only move on, but to live again.