Just as we all grieve differently, we all heal differently.
Healing is a personal search for hope; a trial and error process of looking for a new purpose; a way to feel a little more centered again as you try to make sense of what life is about for you and perhaps your children after a loved one’s death.
I think it took me about eight to ten months after my husband’s death to realize that I couldn’t figure it all out on my own and I had to find help.
Unfortunately, as much as family and friends try to make us feel better, we are a culture that would rather not think about or talk about death, never mind what happens to those loved ones in the throes of grief who must find a way to rebuild their lives and hopefully to love again. I initially thought that if I read about how other people had handled their grief and I continued to pray and cry that eventually I could move myself forward and life would get better.
But that wasn’t true.
I needed to find people who weren’t afraid to see me upset and who could also listen and acknowledge my story. I was juggling a full-time job and being a single parent along with hauling around my big emotionally conflicting ball of grief every day. I could feel it wasn’t working and I reached the point where I found I desperately needed to talk to someone trained in grief counseling to help me process what was going on.
It was a crazy time and eventually I found a bereavement group at Sibley Hospital in my neighborhood in Washington, DC. My time with this special grief support group was sometimes scary because we discussed issues that I didn’t want to think about but were an important part of dealing with my “new reality”.
Those group sessions ran the gamut of emotions starting with total vulnerability to laughing at grief situations that bordered on being irreverent and then back to vulnerability. It was painful to be so raw and helpless in my loss but I always felt protected and safe in my conversations. Without that trust in my fellow grievers, healing could have never started.
As much as we would like to avoid it, honest unfiltered communication among children and adults is really the key to getting on the other side of grief’s terrible awful unrelenting pain.
While my grief support group worked for me I also know that it might not necessarily work for you. Grief support groups are not for everyone. Sometimes a person needs individual time with a trained counselor instead of talking and sharing as a group.
Through the years after my husband’s death, I have discovered many other grief resources which have been outstanding in their support to me and many of my friends and one of those resources is the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing. I didn’t know of the Wendt Center after my husband’s death but I have since known of a handful of adults and children who have participated in their programs and they have only great things to say about the helping hand extend to them and the Washington, DC community at large.
Today’s post is a shoutout to the Wendt Center which is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary of working to help traumatized people figure out what to do next after a loved has died. I only write about the Wendt Center because of the important work that I know it is doing for other people and to acknowledge that it’s healthy to ask for help. No one is asking me to write about the Wendt Center
Just listen to Michael and Omar in this touching two minute video. Their experience at the Wendt Center speaks to the powerful benefits of grief counseling and peer support groups no matter what your age!
We grieve because we love but there is no reason for you to grieve alone.