Day two of my week of thankfulness!
I am grateful for my GriefShare group!
It has been almost a year and a half since losing both of my parents.
When my Mom passed, I felt lost. She was my confidant. The first person I wanted to call when anything happened, good or bad. The person who listened without judgment. Who, even though having hard times herself, would always perk up when I called and would perk me up when I was having a down-day. Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever had to face.
In the weeks following her death, I quickly returned to my day to day life. That seemed to be what I thought would help the best. I stop short of saying things returned to normal, because nothing was normal. I lived a distance from Dad, and while my sisters more locally cared for his daily needs, I tried to step in to support him emotionally. Many phone calls and check-ins became part of my new routine, as well as trying to help in him moving to a new normal in his life.
In those weeks after her death, I did all I could to focus on work and my Dad’s situation. For a little bit, that focus helped to keep my mind off what I was feeling. Yet it wasn’t long before that pain really started to dig in. I couldn’t concentrate and found myself having difficulty remembering things or even finishing a sentence. I found myself disconnecting from people and activities. I felt drained and unable to deal with anything more. I would cry at the drop of a hat, lose my temper over the most ridiculous things, found myself being less tolerant of people and sometimes, I just felt comatose!
Our church had begun it’s first GriefShare program just a week before my Mom passed. When I was back home, following the funeral, I was told about the program and asked, if I felt up to it, to sit in on a meeting. At the time I felt like I was doing ok on my own. It was in those later weeks, without yet knowing what was about to come, that I knew I needed to reconsider.
I attended a meeting and then another. Though it was hard to address the feeling I was having, I felt like I needed to be there — even if I wasn’t yet able to contribute much, or understand a lot about the journey that had started.
Then the unthinkable happened. My Dad passed very unexpectedly, just 5 months later. I felt like I couldn’t make sense of things. I went through the motions to handle arrangements, but inside I felt empty, orphaned and left with a huge hole in my family. I didn’t know what to do — with the emotions I was feeling, the anger, the regret and the worry. So I went back for a second session of GriefShare.
GriefShare helped me in ways that my friends and family couldn’t. The videos helped me to understand that we all grieve differently and no two journeys are exactly the same. They also helped me understand what I was feeling and how to handle those emotions. The workbook, in my private time, helped me with how I was looking at certain situations I was dealing with, and provided scripture that helped to sooth my heart and give me strength. The other participants helped me to know I wasn’t alone and they provided a place where I could speak honestly and openly about how I was doing.
I found indescribable comfort and clarification through GriefShare and I may never be able to truly express what this group has done for me. After two full-length program sessions to help myself, I knew that I wanted to share that comfort with others who were dealing with the pain of loss. So I joined the GriefShare ministry and now help to coordinate and run the program for our church.
In our group session last evening, we talked about not allowing grief to become our identity. While we are people who are experiencing the pain of grief, it is not the sum of who we are or who we will be. It can be very easy to get so caught up in grief that it takes over our whole life. It becomes all we talk about, all we think about and we can lose hope.
GriefShare taught me that I am not my grief. I experience sadness, and that will most likely last the rest of my life, but I can move forward and learn to have those memories without the pain. And if I can share that truth with others, then let that be part of my testimony!