A SAFE PLACE TO TELL OUR STORY...
Tonight I begin another grief group. I’ve lost track of how many and for how long I’ve been doing them. More than twenty years. However, even now, I still have a sense of anticipation about the people that will come and the stories they will bring. Part of the satisfaction that comes from doing these groups is watching how folks go from anxious and hesitant to experiencing the trust and relief they find in others who are on a similar journey.
Finding empathetic people and places to share our story of loss is essential for healthy grieving. We may find it in family and friends, but so often we need the perspective of others who are on the path we are on. Even if our losses are not the same, their is an understanding that comes from being able to tell our story to others who will not judge us or be uncomfortable with our emotions and thoughts.
I was thinking about how I try to create that place in a group and how one might look for similar people to talk to. These are the things, I think, that make a good environment to share, whether in a group or with someone in our circle.
One of the first things I talk to group members about is confidentiality. When we need someone to talk to we need to know that I came tell this person vulnerable thoughts and feelings knowing they will keep those things private.
Groups members are asked to be nonjudgemental. Can I confide in this person without them overlaying their point of view. Their is no wrong way to grieve— just our own way. And, in a similar vein, to not give unsolicited advice. We need people who will not tell us how THEY think we should grieve, but listen unconditionally.
In my grief groups, we talk about trying not to “rescue” people. Some people are uncomfortable with our emotions. So, they pat us on the back , hand us a tissue and tell us “it’s ok”—when mostly they want us to stop. Can I find someone who is not uncomfortable with my tears and my strong emotions? There is a saying, that “the only cure for grief is to grieve”. A safe person to tell our story to would be one who would allow us to grieve, however uncomfortable that may be for them.
Perhaps a grief group is not going to a part of your journey of grief. But I hope you can find a safe person, or persons, with which to share your story.
Greg Syner, LPC