My mother-in-law has suffered some very significant losses in the past few months. Last week, she suggested that she might benefit from attending a grief support group. This was a gigantic step. Lilian is desperately lonely, but she is socially awkward and a bit of a hermit. I quickly located one nearby that meets on Sunday afternoons and signed her up. The group meets in a far removed classroom of a Baptist church. We were greeted in the hallway by Dennis, the extremely kind and friendly husband of the group’s facilitator. He was waiting in the hall for us to be sure we knew the way.
Dennis’s wife, Rosemary greeted us both with a hug. Not the creepy kind. She seemed genuinely happy that Lilian had come. As Lilian was new to the group, everyone went around the table and told us their name s and why they had come to this group. The amount of loss in the room was staggering. Several folks, including Rosemary and Dennis had lost children, one very young lady lost her mother to a not-accidental overdose; everyone had lost parents, spouses, siblings. Some losses, like my mother-in-law’s, were very recent, others had occurred a long time ago. And each member of the group seemed to be at a different place in their journey.
Today’s lesson was on rushing through grief. How you can’t skip steps in this journey – you have to wade right on it to it. And the most helpful take-away for me was that you cannot rush someone through their grief. I admitted to having felt impatient with Lilian. Why didn’t she feel better yet? Why hasn’t she done anything to help herself get out of this deep funk? What could we, her family, do to speed this along? People shared stories of impatient relatives with good intentions clearing out closets of the dearly departed before their funeral had even taken place.
The meeting ended with the passing of a colorful rubber band ball. Everyone removed a rubber band and said something they were thankful for. I was thankful that they all made us feel so very welcome,. Lilian left the meeting in a better place than when she went in. She wondered which members might become her friends. She spoke of heading back next Sunday. I’m not going to rush her any more, but I am really proud that she has taken this brave step to confront her grief head-on.