10 Reasons to Try a "Grief Group" (even if/especially if you aren’t the “support-group-type”)
There are many steps we can each take to facilitate our own healing. Being part of a group created to help group members heal is one big, juicy, important step.
Over the years, I have not only facilitated many different types of groups ~ but I have also participated in them ~ first, as a parent whose child died, then as a husband whose wife died, and finally, as a man whose wife, daughter and son died.
I have discovered that all groups are not alike. There are groups created with the intention of healing. There are other groups created to offer comfort, to help you cope, OR to simply educate. AND, be aware that there are healthy groups and not so healthy groups.
There are also intuitive, healthy, gifted facilitators ... and then there are the others.
When I facilitate a group, I set the very clear intention to allow healing to occur. Prior to the meeting time, my job is to create an outline for the session; to have an idea of the direction I want to take the group in. But once that group starts, my job is to take my hands off the steering wheel and allow the energy of the group to go where it will. My job is to be very, very present; “in the moment” as they say ~ to trust the process.
Here are 10 reasons to try a group (even if/especially if you aren’t the “support-group-type”):
1. I believe that the souls (spirits, energies, essences ~ use whatever word you are comfortable with) of the people we love surround us when we are in the group. I believe they lift us up, and guide us towards our own healing.
2. I believe we are also surrounded, lifted up and even directed by nonphysical beings - teachers, guides and angels (again, it is not important what you call them) whose intention is to help us heal.
“I especially appreciated your making sure everyone was comfortable i.e. as to their level of involvement, creating a non-threatening environment. That was very important to me.”
3. I believe that there is a healing energy available to us, while we are in the group, that is more powerful than our individual energy, or the sum total of our individual energies. The group creates its own very powerful, almost palpable energy. “Where two or more of you are gathered...”
4. I believe, that even if you believe none of what I’ve written in #1, #2, #3, the healing power of the group is still available to you. Shifts can occur for you if you do nothing more than sit in silence and bathe in the group energy.
“Last week did me a lot of good. By the end of the week I was able to let go of a lot of the anger I was feeling.”
5. I have seen group members enter the room frightened, tense, with hunched shoulders and crunched up, tight facial expressions. I have seen these same people, 90 minutes later, leave the room with a new softness in their face, a brightness in their eyes, and a vibrancy that had not been there before. Group members feel this shift in themselves and can see it in each other.
6. I believe there is comfort in knowing we are not alone in our grief. In knowing we are not going crazy. Only when we talk about our personal experience with grief in a safe space, are we able to discover that we actually have much more in common with each other then we thought. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is much common ground in the grief experience.
“Tom will show you how to celebrate and honor your loved one. He will show you how your grief can lead to an even deeper love and relationship, a deeper connection to your loved one.”
7. I believe it is healing to hear and feel another person’s stories and experiences. It is healing to open our heart to another person in pain, when we ourself are in pain. When we are authentically together, the unbearable can become bearable.
8. I believe that knowledge is power and when we have a better understanding of what grief is, how it expresses itself, and how mourning brings about healing ~ we are in a better position to consciously create our healing plan.
“I just want you to know that I am extremely grateful for this experience. Thank you so much for offering your experience and your wisdom to the world. What a wonderful gift!"
9. I believe we can take concrete steps to create a plan to facilitate our healing. Time alone does not heal. It’s what we do with our time that determines the speed at which we heal.
10. I believe we were born to heal. Healing is available to everyone.
FYI, I have studied Expressive Arts for Healing and Social Change: A Person-Centered Approach with Dr. Natalie Rogers, Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco, CA