Sunday, October 16, 2016

Much to learn at Grief Support Group

I did it. I joined a Hospice sponsored Grief Support Group. When I went Thursday afternoon, I wasn't expecting much. I didn't have to preregister for it. The group meets twice a month five minutes away. I worried I might arrive and be the only person there. That would be awkward. However, more than 30 men and women filled the large room. Some have been involved with the group for two years and there were newbies, like me, anxious and not knowing what to expect.

 It is actually a pretty close-knit group. Lots was discussed and everyone seemed eager to share. . There are as many men as women in the group. Most are seniors and have lost husbands or wives they'd spent years with.  Others lost a parent, brother, sister or best friend. One man lost his wife and son the same month.

Two women I sat near had both lost their husbands in August. Besides still spinning over their losses, one says she is overwhelmed with paperwork and hasn't cried even though she dearly misses her husband. She wonders if she sell their home and downsize. Both feel lost about things in need of repair around their homes and finding someone to do the work.

Many in the group had a lot to say about waiting for six months, a year, even longer before doing anything drastic. Some identified with her, saying in the end they realized repairs, yard work, all of that stuff can wait. As for not shedding tears, there are people who don't weep right away. It will happen eventually. It is not healthy however, to hold back tears.

I was quiet today, which is unusual for me. I felt more comfortable listening. I did speak up once, when a woman talked about not knowing what to do with old documents and photos her husband had kept. She said he had his parents birth certificates and old pictures that are of no interest to her. She said she was going to clean house and throw stuff like that out. I suggested passing the stuff onto someone else in his family, maybe a niece or nephew that are interested in keeping family documents together. I added I plan to do this with the same sort of things Kevin has stashed away. The team leader said my doing that is a good step as I am finding function for things that meant something to Kevin. She added it makes letting go, easier.

First everyone is different and no one can tell you how to get through grief.

The group talked about crying. A few people acknowledged not crying for several months until something happened and tears started flowing. The leader explained that is as normal as those who can't stop the tears. What isn't normal is wanting to cry, but holding back. It may take time, she said for some to process what's happened.

That led into a discussion about the process of not believing that person is gone and not coming back to life. Humans aren't experienced with finality, says the group leader

Vocabulary.com  defines: People often speak of the finality of death. Nothing comes after it and nothing that came before it can be changed.

That is a very deep concept to understand. And while one is grieving, it is difficult to acknowledge. The group leader stressed it is something everyone grieving must eventually face.

There was a lot more discussed. I will be covering as much as possible in future posts.

Craft show bound


I also did something else. I took part in a craft show on Saturday, which brought me great angst beforehand. But my fears about all the hard work getting set up without Kevin's expertise and making it through the day interacting with fair goers quickly turned to relief. Although I packed and unpacked the car several times, I finally got it loaded nearly the same way as Kevin would. He would have everything perfectly balanced and packed in order of what needed to be unloaded first like tent, tables and anchor weights. I haven't done a craft show in two years and for this one, I took a sampling of my works instead of every last thing I've made. Made packing easier.

It was Heritage Days celebrating 160 years for the City of Brooksville.  Anna set up next to me with her beautiful aprons, bags, scarves and more. I was glad to have her company  We always try to take care of each other at shows, especially when sales are few and far between. Today turned out to be a good one.

I never planned to talk about Kevin all day, with fellow vendors and customers. But, it happened. Was especially poignant since it was Cancer Survivors' Day.

One couple came by and the wife started looking through my greeting cards. She loved them and as she pulled out her favorites, she asked how I got the idea to make them. I told her about Kevin, his cancer and how he'd asked me to make some thank you notes to send to friends and family that were writing him and sending him small gifts, mementos. Her husband asked about our experience and if I (we) thought it better to have the year together before he passed as opposed to going through sudden or immediate death. He explained,"Some people say they would rather die immediately of a heart attack or what ever, that they wouldn't want to linger or suffer. I've wondered about that."

For me. I explained. For us, the time was precious. Kevin suffered some and felt okay some. Kevin reconnected with old friends, which was one of the best things that happened. He spent more time reflecting on his faith and tried to keep up with friends and family as best as he could. Kevin was grateful for doctors and nurses who were caring and supportive. We spent time walking in the sunshine and making gingerbread cookies. He read as many books as he could finish.

Although, I never really faced the inevitable, I was eased into it. I was determined his health would turn around and as they say, life would go on. We spent all of our time together. I did everything I could to help him fight cancer. Being there for him, giving everything I could to help him was so important to me. That time, well we wanted infinity not finality and we got a year.

Everyone and every situation is different. I know that and reminded my customer that I was not speaking for anyone else. He understood and thanked me for sharing my story.

Another vendor told me about her father's passing 10 years ago and how much she still hurts, thinking about it. She said she was told not to cry in front of her dad because she was upsetting him in his final days. So she would leave the room, whenever she was overcome with emotion. After he died she couldn't cry and ended up suffering with depression for three years. Her doctor finally told her to save her own life, she needed to let her emotions go and cry. The tears finally started falling. They still fall, she says. We talked and wept together.

Even though all of this sounds horrifying, it wasn't. I am an emotion-sharing person. And I was sharing them with people who were open to the sharing.

I loved the crowd, mostly families eager to smell my spiced clay pins and sort through my wallet selection. I marked the pins down for the day and it was cute to see elderly couples giggling and buying pins for each other, kids and moms picking out favorites. This is the last downtown event before Halloween, so children donned their costumes and vendors supplied bowls of treats. I opted for these little boxes of tattoos - bats, jack-o-lanterns and skulls. Something different. And I didn't want to end up with a bunch of candy I would be obliged to eat. Fat chance of that happening, Anna had two big bags of sweets and we just made it to the end of the day.

So,what it all boils down to is I sold pieces, made new friends and got invited to do many more upcoming craft shows. Now, I am thinking about reopening my Etsy shop. It would all be so much better if I could share these experiences with Kevin. I know. Kevin is watching and cheering me onward. He always did.

My booth is the second on in this line. Anna's is the first one.:


And this is my favorite shot of the day:


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