I started attending a Group Grief therapy session last week. It is 8 weeks long. In this group are all different ages (although all are adults in this session) and genders of people who have lost spouses, children, parents, siblings. I found the session very difficult to get through and very depressing. One woman who lost her husband this May, was there for her 2nd 8 week session. I visited a Therapist a few days ago. She herself lost her husband 2 years ago. She said she is not a fan of group grief sessions. She said they can actually do more harm than good by delaying the healing process. The therapist asked me how I felt after the group session and I told her honestly it was very depressing. I also talked to a friend of mine that lives across the county. Her husband died in an auto accident 16 years ago. She said she used a good therapist to help her get past the pain, but never any group grief sessions.
I went to GriefShare. I was the only widower, everyone else was there for a family member or friend. Not minimizing their grief but mine was not really in the same category as theirs. I commend the people that ran it and their commitment. However, I really couldn't relate to what they were discussing and at the end they expected you to be "healed" and have a "new beginning". Four years later I'm in the same frame of mind as I was the days after Janet passed. Maybe I'm one of those that don't want to be "cured" or have a "new beginning". My commitment to Janet doesn't diminish with time it only gets stronger in the absolute knowledge that one day we will be together again and I will hear her say "You did well, I love you".
I think the effectiveness depends on the facilitators' skill of leading the group.
Emphasis should be on moving forward but avoid the term “Moving on.” That term denotes that we need to “Get over it.” Also, we live in a culture where a specified time frame, perhaps six months to a year, and then if we still feel sad and cry on a whim, something is wrong with us. Who came up with that time frame? Where is that written? In the US Constitution or Magna Carta???
Why is it that maternity leave is six weeks or longer (I think it should be longer-lol), but when a loved one dies, the average length of paid bereavement is three days? If I have my appendix removed, medical leave is usually about two months, heart surgery, six months to a year. Fracture a hip; you may be out for nine months but losing a loved one, three to five days? What?!
Honoring every loss, be it a spouse, sibling, child, parent, a close friend is paramount. Death of a loved one, regardless of who it is, is subjective. It is not just the loss of that person in our life; grief is centered on the nature of the relationship. Was it nurturing, kind, corrupt, dysfunctional, loving, we grieve over what should or could have been, or perhaps words of anger that were said before they died?
I think its little children who grieve the most effectively, but we are taught that it's not okay to cry, grief is discouraged by replacing the loss with something else. It usually starts with a loved pet, and the message stays the same. Who can replace a grandparent, daughter, sibling, spouse? Yet, as adults, we have that ingrained in us from childhood, and we wonder why we stay stuck.
I'm going to a group right now, in week 2 of 4. It's art and creative focused, so we aren't only sitting around talking. I think that's helpful. I also think it depends on the group, and depends on where you are in your grief process. I definiftely couldn't have done this a few months ago.