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In our deepest grief, those who have loved and know loss, find the darkest and hardest days of our journey as humans.

Grief is a difficult emotion to completely explain to those who have not experienced it, but it is without a doubt an emotion based in love. Having had the humbling experience of working with people in all stages of grief, it is easy to marvel at the power of loss to bring all walks of life together.

Loss is universal, knows no socio-economic bounds, race or occupation. It is something that we all will face if we are willing to love.

A quote that often circulates in grief support groups is by Jamie Anderson: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

Over the past year, Marcus Daly Hospice has been offering a structured bereavement course of grief support that has proven beneficial to those in our community that are struggling with the loss of a loved one. Over the year those who have participated have had the opportunity to bear witness to countless stories of love, loss and grief during this time.

In a structured bereavement group, participants are able to find common ground through normalization of feelings, learn new skills for moving forward and find hope. Often grief can feel akin to living on an island; alone fraught with emotion and uncertainty.

Learning that others share this experience and feeling can be very empowering. Whether it is hearing others talk about anger, guilt, should have’s, or discussing the barrage of work that follows a passing, members of the group engage often while in different stages of grief and can offer each support and assurance that they too will make it through the storm.

The most difficult part of participating in a group process is overcoming the trepidation of attending your first session. It is there that the table is set for healing and allowing people to feel safe in sharing. When participants return for the second session, they find themselves finding allies and confidants. It is here that normalization of feelings can be very effective in linking members of the session. Hearing others struggle through difficult feelings can help you manage your emotional response. Knowing that you are not alone, no matter how lonely you may feel, can have a lasting impact on those on the grief journey.

By learning new skills, such as self-care for those that have taken care of loved ones, finding hobbies and community activities, individuals can find a needed path forward. Journaling, talking to a professional, or linking with religious support can offer additional support systems for the bereaved.

Finally, it is in finding others who can talk openly about the journey that group participants often start looking forward to the future. The future may not look like as expected, but hope can allow for a new future to be created step-by-step. Many members of the bereavement group may have difficulty thinking about a future without a loved one. The communal memories shared within the group, reminds participants of the successes and small steps that have been taken in the recent weeks during the sessions, facilitating growth and hope.

The benefits of group bereavement sessions can be effective for people in all stages of grief. Serving our neighbors in an effort to offer support, encouragement and a safe space to openly discuss the complicated nature of loss is our honor. The benefits of group bereavement sessions can help participants though such a difficult time.

If you or someone you know could benefit from a bereavement focused group, please call to register for the next class that will begin Dec. 20 at 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and will run for six weeks each Thursday thereafter. Bereavement group sessions are held in the MDMH Hospice Center. For additional information or to register call 406-375-4752.

Hospice Volunteers would like to invite you to the Annual Marcus Daly Hospice Tree of Lights on Friday, Dec. 7th at 5:30 pm, held in the Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital Blodgett and Canyon View conference rooms. Take this time to reflect and remember those we love during this Holiday season. Enjoy homemade soup, bread, and baked goodies, a ceremony of reflection, sharing, music, and remembrance, and at 7 pm the lighting of the Hospice Christmas Tree.

For more information about the Tree of Lights event and all other events and classes hosted by Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, visit MDMH.org, call 406-363-2211 and follow us on Facebook.

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