About a year ago, I went to my first grief support group through an organization called GriefShare. This program was truly the life preserver thrown out to save me from drowning in my season of grief. When I tell people about GriefShare – numerous professional counselors, fellow church members, and countless friends/family, nobody is aware of this wonderful group. And I am here to tell you: everyone should know about GriefShare.
GriefShare groups meet weekly to help you face these challenges and move toward rebuilding your life. Each GriefShare session has three distinct elements:
1. Video Seminar with Experts
Each week your GriefShare group will watch a video seminar featuring top experts on grief and recovery subjects. These videos are produced in an interesting television magazine format featuring expert interviews, real-life case studies, dramatic reenactments, and on-location video.
2. Support Group Discussion with Focus
After viewing the video, you and the other group members will spend time as a support group, discussing what was presented in that week’s video seminar and what is going on in your lives.
3. Personal Study and Reflection
During the week you will have the opportunity to use your workbook for further personal study of the grieving process and to help sort out your emotions through journaling. Your group will spend time discussing questions and comments from the workbook study.
My GriefShare Experience
Shortly after my dad’s suicide, do you know how many people told me “You need to be strong for those around you?” Too many to count. So, for the first two months I was extremely “strong.” I rarely cried. I helped plan my dad’s memorial service, and I wrote my dad’s obituary. I gave a eulogy in front of a room full of hundreds of people without shedding a tear. I went back to work less than a week afterwards (I received 3 days of bereavement leave from my company…more about that in a separate post).
I was taking impeccable care of my 2-year-old son, oftentimes solo-parenting while my husband was traveling for work. I was managing our household. I was going to counseling.
I am a doer. A fixer. And I would tell myself “I will look forward, not backwards! Look how good I am doing!”
And then I went to this grief support group on a Saturday morning. And as I was watching the weekly video, I started crying. I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t control it. I was not sobbing, but my eyes were just slowly spewing tears.
And then we got in a circle and do an activity. And I started crying again! And I was thinking, “Who is this person?! What happened to the strong Misti?!”
From the very beginning, my grief was immense. But I am the type of person that does not show my grief in front of others because I don’t want to be a burden. So…please know that if someone going through grief looks like they have it all together on the outside, on the inside they are probably just a hot mess just like everybody else.
“Please know that if someone going through grief looks like they have it all together on the outside, on the inside they are probably just a hot mess just like everybody else.”
I think this quote from my first day at GriefShare says it best:
GriefShare taught me to be as authentic as possible with my grief and to pray that those around me would help me when I was feeling overwhelmed, and tell me that I was not being a burden.
Here are My Top 5 Reasons to Join GriefShare:
1. Structured Learning About Grief
At a time in my life that was pure chaos, it was a relief to have some structure to follow. During the 13-week session, there was an extremely systematic curriculum about a variety of topics that were always helpful.
2. A Safe Space to Share About Your Loved One
I thought about my dad ALL THE TIME (and still do), but I struggled with nobody ever wanting to talk about him or say his name! I was an open book and desperately craved to tell others about my dad’s death and life, and share stories about him. GriefShare provided an open outlet to share these experiences with others who simply “got it.” Sharing my stories, listening to other’s stories, and the two-way dialogue helped me heal.
3. Carved Out Time for Yourself
Many times I felt like there was simply no room for grief. Life goes on, even though time stands still. Before GriefShare, I was very bad at making time for myself to just reflect and sit with my grief. It took a concerted effort and commitment to go through GriefShare, but it is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I looked forward to going to the group each week, and I carved out about 15-minutes each night to complete the suggested reading and associated workbook questions.
4. Forged Friendships That Will Last a Lifetime
The biggest benefit to GriefShare was that I created numerous friendships with group members. During the 13-week session, you are sharing so much about yourself and your grief with others, so I feel like it is natural to form strong bonds with those in your group. I felt extremely close to my group leaders, and I made strong connections with two other women in my group. Even though the three of us are at different stages in our lives, and experiences different losses, we had so much in common so we just understood each other on a higher, more emotional, level. A year later, we are still celebrating each other’s birthdays, going to lunch or dinner on a regular basis, and simply sharing our hearts and memories of our lost loved ones with one another. It is a beautiful thing, and I will be forever grateful for these friendships that were initiated by our involvement in GriefShare.
5. Greater Hope for the Future
Through its Christian foundation, GriefShare helped me discover hope for the future. While things looked bleak then, GriefShare helped me learn ways to restore my hope and faith in God. Even if you are thinking to yourself, “I am not a religious person,” I will say that GriefShare isn’t “too religious” or intimidating for someone who doesn’t have a relationship with God yet. Personally, I am much closer to God now than I was before my dad passed away. GriefShare was a great way for me to learn about God’s grace and develop a stronger relationship with Him, and this gave me so much hope and peace for all that is to come after this life.
“Many times I felt like there was simply no room for grief. Life goes on, even though time stands still.”
Interested in Joining a GriefShare Group?
If you are interested in learning more about my experiences with GriefShare, please reach out to me! And if you are interested in joining a GriefShare group, go to https://www.griefshare.org/.