Last night I put on a sweater and a coat and my fuzzy black boots and headed up a cold, traffic-choked street to a bereavement support group meeting. I was ready to get my cry on and to nod my head in me-too ness at the stories and wails of others. This was not to be. Turns out the group is not drop in. It’s not like one of those drive by nail salons where you can get a chip repaired in five minutes and a palm tree painted on your toenails while your fingernails dry. This support group is an 8 week commitment, an all or none deal where people come to stay for two months so they can get to know each other and feel safe with each other’s tears. That’s good. I get it. I’m just not sure that that model works well with the unpredictable, whimsical nature of grief. I mean, what if I can’t commit to eight weeks? Or what if I need twenty weeks or just an hour and a half to feel relieved? What if I don’t have a car or I’m having a horrible hair night or it’s too cold for me to leave the house? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could schedule grief? If we could squish it down to a few manageable minutes each evening after the nightly news or just before the hot shower? Wouldn’t that be sweet? If it were possible we could just gather our misery like a handful of stones and stick them in our pockets, bringing them out when we need to feel something solid in our hands. Putting them back when the need has passed (pardon the pun) and the tears have receded. But you and I both know mourning has no schedule and no plan. It’s as shaky and trigger-happy as a prisoner released ten minutes ago. Don’t get me wrong: an intensive eight week support group dedicated to the bereaved is awesome. What I’m uncertain of its practicality given the slippery nature of real-life grief and whether it’s effective to require members to attend or not attend without the option of dropping in. It’s tricky, right? Building trust and a solid group dynamic can take time and boundaries around who can enter and when. But it’s reassuring to those of us who grieve to know that there is a place for us whenever, whatever, however. Shucks, sometimes it’s hard to commit to getting up in the morning. Sometimes grief is minute by minute ie right now I am eating vegetable soup. It tastes good. Then I will read the newspaper. Ok, got that done. Next I will walk to the kitchen for water…And so on until we’ve filled an entire day without our loved one, then another day, then a year, playing everything by ear and by heart. I would’ve liked to have shared that with the group last night. I was really ready to talk and to listen. Oh well. Maybe I can reschedule my grief til next month. Postpone that good cry for a few weeks from now.
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