It has been said that grief doesn’t end, it simply evolves. Losing a spouse can feel as if life as you know it has died with your loved one, said Karen Armstrong. Sharing her profound grief experience with others helped her survive, and eventually thrive again.
Ten years ago, Armstrong joined a loss support group for people whose spouses had died, offered by the Hosparus Grief Counseling Center. Though the group “graduated” after about a year, as many as 18 members continue to meet monthly for dinner and conversation as a result of their positive experience with Hosparus and our grief counselors. This year, the proceeds from the group’s annual Christmas giving efforts will benefit Hosparus.
Mary Ann Carter said, “When the group first started, all of us were skeptical that anyone could understand what they were going through. How could anyone here possibly understand how much we were hurting?” they asked. “What could anyone say to make me feel better? Someone laughed in another room, and it made us so angry. How could anyone laugh so freely while my heart was breaking into tiny pieces?”
As the group continued to meet over the next few months, the members began to feel safe, and they were able to open up about their grief and begin coping in a healthy way. They came to realize that they were not “broken,” and their reactions were normal.
“We have found a group of friends who understand and who could cry and laugh with us. It is our belief that someone up above knew we needed each other,” said Mary Ann Shepherd.
The connections the group forged soon began to blossom outside their regular meetings. “A few of us started having a late dinner. The group grew, and more social events were planned. Forever friendships were born,” said Joan Malafronte.
She added that while their losses will always be a part of them, they each learned to “hold onto one another and cherish the good memories, thanks to our group.”
“We especially thank Hosparus for providing us the opportunity to come together under the direction of our facilitators, Bernie and Tony,” Armstrong said.
“They nurtured us when we needed it, guided us when we were stuck, and yes, laughed with us when we were finally able to laugh,” Tony Moore added.
Rita Hinton summarized, “We drew on each other in our time of grief ten years ago, and we continue to support each other today!”
If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to death, consider taking advantage of one of the specialty support groups offered by the Hosparus Grief Counseling Center. There is no fee to participate up to 13 months after the person’s death. Visit our website at hosparus.org or call 1-888-345-8197 to find a group near you.