We went down gently
to the bottom-most step. There you can grieve and breathe,
rinse your possessions in the chilly spring.
Grief groups can have a strange allure. Individuals are seeking something, and find themselves “in need of accomplices,” as Adam Phillips writes, “but unsure what they might want from them.” All that a grieving person might bring to a group—intense feelings of sadness, struggles with changing moods or managing relationships or energy for activities, holding difficult and complicated pieces of a story, feeling apprehensive about sharing, wondering if the group is for them—all this and more converges around a circle, where the anxiety of closeness sits uneasily with the need not to feel alone.
With gentleness, always with gentleness, we invite participants to dip down into their grief by sharing their stories and listening to the stories of others. We provide a kind of soft framework, a container for how the group process can unfold. Group members are given space for any reactions which arise and encouraged to take their time with tearful feelings and other expressions. The stories come in all shapes and sizes, from the tidy and coherent to the fragmentary and circular. No two stories are ever just alike.
The weekly packet of materials, the exercises we invite participants to do and the intentional open-ended questions are all offered to help group members clear away the debris of what has happened and to take stock in where they are and what resources they have for coping. Each grief group forges its own unique character; trust develops when individuals share and resonate with one another. Ultimately, the strength of the group lies in the group, as individuals hold together the grief and the lives they share. It is a courageous venture, with a felt sense of risk, but many have found it to be beneficial and worth the time and effort.
A reflection by Director of Bereavement Kip Ingram on Montgomery Hospice's support groups
See schedule of grief support groups and workshops