A community of peers created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
After a year and a half I got TONY BOLONEY, a year old Morkie...my gardener GAVE him to me. My kids are grown and I live alone and there is nothing like having a living, breathing...and furry little guy with me.
Some of you know him from Camp Widow last year. At my workshop he was my assistant. He was much more articulate than I was!
I can honestly say that one of the most healing things I ever did was to attend griefshare classes (www.griefshare.com). These classes really helped me understand what I was feeling and have a safe place to share with others who were also grieving. I actually attended their classes three consecutive times and each time helped me in a different way. I have met many others since my loss that have also told me similar stories of how griefshare helped them.
Griefshare is a christian based grief class that take place all over the US. Classes are roughly 12 weeks long and cover the entire grieving process.
I think these classes helped me to understand what I was feeling and understand the importance of not running form my grief. While grieving was one of the most painful things I have ever done, I know I would not have healed as much as I have if I had never faced the losses and grieved them. I think so much in these classes have helped me to heal and understand as a widower what this process would be like. I highly recommend these to anyone who is grieving.
For me the most healing thing was to return to my volunteer position. Although in a different area of the organisation due to the fact that Keith was also a member and I felt the need to change the time and place I attended.
The other members have been a wonderful support and the fact that I am giving to the community and to the organisation that helped me during the toughest time of my life has a healing energy all of it's own.
With the work that we do it is important that we devote our full attention to the matter at hand due to the critical time factors in Emergency work and we also have to ensure that it is safe for our teams to go into situations. This means that I am able to put aside my own sorrow and put my energies into what ever is happening. After 8 years with the organisation it has become second nature to do this, but was hard the first few times after Keith died. Now at 4 months it is easier and makes me feel a useful member of society again.
I know what you mean, SahdowandCloud...putting our energy into being there for others takes us out of ourselves a bit and it ends up helping us.
Also so great that this is where you were before and you feel comfortable there. I am very active at the Friars Club and being part of a place that Jimmy and I used to enjoy together is like a familiar home away from home.
My first thought was that returning to work quickly was the most healing for me - but I don't really think that's true. It did force me to immerse myself into "normalcy" rather quickly and I was able to act the part while there (and still do). Did it keep me from sinking into depression? Yes, I think it helped quite a bit. But, after 7 months (today) I still don't do well on the weekends, so perhaps I've just been delaying my true healing by my Oscar-winning behavior during the work week.
I did a GriefShare group and a couple of one-day things at hospice during the first months. The success of the face-to-face groups depends heavily on the facilitator and the personalities of the group members ... I wasn't as lucky as NMWidower and Krusty ... but I would recommend trying to find one that works.
I did find a wonderful online bereavement support group through Cancer Support Community. We meet through a chat line with a facilitator each Thursday evening and have grown very close. We've connected through Facebook now, too, and have a private group page there so we can continue to share in between those Thursday sessions. It's not a widows-only group but it has been an important part of my healing. http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/
At around 3 months I started attending a yoga class taught by a friend. I'm not in great shape, but yoga has definitely helped with my healing. It's a 90-minute gift I give to myself each week. And I started a widow's blog with the intent that having a place to release my true feelings could also provide a place of support and learning for the caregivers who will eventually join me in 'widow-land'. I find it helpful to write, but I don't do it daily - or even weekly, for that matter. I can't really share my most true feelings because it's "out there" ... friends, family, co-workers read it and then I have to deal with all of that. So it's a bit filtered. http://amyelomawidowsjourney.blogspot.com/
Finding Widowed Village has definitely been one of the most healing things I've done so far. Connecting with others who understand, who 'get it', where you don't have to make up excuses - you can just 'be' whatever you are at that moment - has been immensely helpful. Reading the stories of others helps me to see my experience in a different light. And the fun banter and humor of the chat room (Village Square) can bring me up when I need it. This is a truly wonderful place.
What helped me most, in those early days, was my 'widdas' group. We were brought together by the Macmillan nursing service, we had two things in common we were bereaved through cancer and we had young children. We met every 6 weeks in the Maggie's centre (not sure if you have that in USA) with a trained counsellor who facillitated our discussions. We spoke about everything from; what we did with the ashes when we got them home, to - the best style of ironing board for men - long wnough that you can fit a pint of beer in one end whilst doing the job. We covered the dilemenas of men dealing with bras, pants and sanitary products for their teenage girls through the dreadful things that people say to you when their intention is comfort. We laughed as much as we cried.
They got it - these weren't folks saying 'I know how you feel' when they so clearly didn't - these were people, friends, who were on the same path as me - we were walking the walk together.
as is everyone on this site too Helen. We are all at different stages of the journey and some have more twists and turns in the path, but we all have one thing in common, we did not want or expect this journey at this time.
What ever the twists and turns we are all able to support one another and give each other a hand up the steep paths and over the boulders that seem to drop onto the path.
I am so grateful to have found this site and the wonderful friends I have made here and for me this is one of the most helpful things I have found.
I love you all (((hugs)))