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If you have never attended a support group before, you may feel very intimidated by the thought of walking into a room of strangers and offering up your personal pain and experience. Support groups are not for everyone, but I think it is important to at least try a group a few times to see what you might be able to get out of it. It may take a few times of attending to feel comfortable in a group, or it might take trying out a few different groups before you find one that feels like “home.” Either way, it is always worth a try to see what resources are available in your area and to take advantage of them. It is also another great reason to get out of the house if you are homebound like I was!

Sometimes it takes time to warm up to the group experience. Support groups are created with the idea in mind that all who come are sharing a very personal part of themselves, and therefore respect, openness, and understanding are well established within the group’s structure. There is also usually an understanding that not everyone will feel ready to open up during the first visit. This is okay, too, and you should never feel pressured to share if you don’t feel ready. If and when you decide to speak, you may experience an amount of relief that you never expected. You may also receive validation from others in the group who are experiencing similar feelings.

As humans, we are social beings. Having a soul connection with others and the ability to share experiences is part of what helps us operate and function at a healthy level. It is also amazing how, in support groups, you lose the feeling of being in a room of strangers very quickly because you are cutting through all the surface details and going straight to the heart of the common issue that’s brought you all together.

Support groups are not all doom and gloom either—at least they shouldn’t be or they aren’t doing their job! Surprisingly, you may find yourself leaving with your stomach and cheeks hurting because you’ve been able to laugh at something humorous that was said. And that is a good thing. Humor is a great stress release! There will always be plenty of sad tears, of course, but there has to be that element of hope (and balance) or there would be no point in going. 

It also never hurts to build a new friendship with a woman who just might show up on your doorstep on one of your most depressed days offering you a chocolate milkshake!

Love and Light,

Elizabeth B.

Hip Chick Wisdom

“Be open to finding support. Surround yourself with people who let you be “you,” let you say and do crazy things, and do not judge. Nothing you say is wrong and the right people will know and understand this.”  —Katie E.

www.CreativeGrieving.com

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Comment by Elizabeth on August 26, 2013 at 7:04am

Yes Mac. Chocolate milkshakes are always a plus!:)

Comment by Elizabeth on August 26, 2013 at 7:02am

Thank you for your comment Suz! I appreciate you sharing about your support group experience. They are certainly all very different. Some just resonate with you more than others. It sounds like you've had some pretty great experiences, along with a not so great one! I'm glad that you've been able to find the support that feels right for you, and that certainly comes from being proactive and seeking it! I hope it inspires others to try it out as well. I've always believed in strength in numbers!

Comment by Mac on August 23, 2013 at 3:42pm

"It also never hurts to build a new friendship with a woman who just might show up on your doorstep on one of your most depressed days offering you a chocolate milkshake!"

That sounds like a good idea!

Comment by Suz on August 23, 2013 at 5:55am

Elizabeth,

I am with you. Support groups can be wonderful. I was in my first support group as a young woman in my twenties after my mom died. It saved me and, in some ways, became a family who understood me. This is forty years later and I still remember some of those members with such love.

They can also be a bust. When Jud died, I chose a grief support group because it was near home (I have a disability). It was a bust. I was already in a support group for pain disorders and they agreed to be with me, no matter what. It was not quite the same but they knew me well and they were committed to me. 

I know that I have to surround myself with support. I get a lot of support online because there are days that I don't feel well enough to go out and get it. 

I also agree with you on trying several groups. They are soooo different. The person running the group, the group members themselves, the philosophy of the group (for example, some may be religion-based, some not).

I believe very strongly in the power of groups and think you said it all so well, Elizabeth. I really hope people will give them a good try.

Suz

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