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 After the shiva…Understanding Bereavement

Understanding Bereavement is an informal support group that meets most Tuesday evenings from 6:30-7:15, after services.  It is a good follow up after your shiva ends.  Dealing with the loss of someone close is emotionally and physically draining.  When combined with a period of care giving the spouse often is left a damaged survivor.  In this letter, I will relate how the group helped me get back to a ‘new normal.’

My dear wife Marion died of cancer just over a year ago, after a year and a half of tests, treatments and palliative care.  You don’t need the details.  At the shiva I was well looked after by many family and friends.  After that I fell into a unfamiliar, empty void.  There were some people that continued to provide emotional support and distractions, but could not possibly do enough.

I felt out of place in familiar settings.  Coming home the house was quiet and empty and I would shout a hello, or worse.  Going to any social event was uncomfortable.  Even normal routines were hit and miss.  Every day was a challenge to find the strength to fill both our roles.  So many things triggered memories.  Then there were the closets…

After a few weeks of trying to move forward on my own I was prompted to attend the HBT group Understanding Bereavement.  At first I avoided attending.  After a second, or maybe third invite I decided to give it a try.  That’s why I’m writing this letter, to share my positive experience.   If there is but one thought to share, it is that all of the survivors had similar experiences.  There is comfort in not being unusual;  more comfort in hearing that with time others were healing.

The group is informal, confidential and made up of a changing group of people dealing with the loss of spouse, parent or child.  Helen, a professional social worker, plus one of the HBT clergy get discussion started, which then usually takes off on it’s own.  We participate at our personal comfort level, attending as often or little as convenient.  If you know of somebody that might benefit from the group I recommend that they check it out.

By: Richard C

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