A friend had told me about it: Our House. A grief support group where people gather to speak of their losses, to share their grief. Last night was my first meeting.
I looked around the group, women and men from different walks of life, all gathered together linked by this common denominator. The room was silent, there was none of the typical chattering, we all knew why we were there. As the facilitator put so well, we had all become members of a club no one wanted to join.
I wasn’t sure if this would be a good fit for me. There were concerns about my ability to hold everyone’s grief as well as my own. Would I find myself frustrated that I couldn’t share all that I needed to? Would I start to weep and not be able to get a word out at all? But in that first evening those fears were put to rest.
We took turns sharing our names, our spouse’s name, and how they had died, bringing both ourselves and our loved ones into the circle. Tears rolled silently down cheeks, some rocked in their seats, and as each one found the courage to reveal their story I felt their pain along with my own.
In a society that has little patience for grief, and certainly not in public, there is something exquisite about a container such as this. For 90 minutes, we allowed the masks to drop; we did not have to pretend or be strong. We sat as witnesses, with no fixing, no judgement. It was simply, and so powerfully, a place where we could be ourselves in our grief.
The questions were implied: When does this end? When do we get better? When does the loneliness ease? When do we stop crying at the sight of their photos, the mention of their names?
The answer was not pat, but rather what I’ve come to learn – not just about grieving, but about life itself:
The journey is not linear.
It is a spiral, a rollercoaster, a riptide, a river, a wave.
Wandering, weaving, reshaping, reforming, expanding, contracting.
And yes, with time and patience we do come through. Not necessarily to ‘better,’ but to different.
In our own time and in our own way.
We are to meet every other week for eighteen months. It is hard for me to fathom that at the end of this group it will have been two years without my husband…
But as I put yet another foot forward on this path to ‘different,’ I am finding comfort in this new gathering. Their stories are my stories are our stories.
This sacred circle – for that is what it is – is a fabric we are weaving.
To hold our tears and each other.
As we make our way through the darkness of this tunnel, it is hands holding hands –
As we stumble and fall,
Rise up and go on.