Grief counselor Joe Prainito releases Article "Why should the Grieving Attend Grief Support Groups?"

Dying is a natural part of life, just as grieving is a natural part of death. Why then do so many neglect to join a grief support group; assuming that they can do it alone. Sadly this not only robs oneself of support, but robs others of support too.
By: Joe Prainito
Aug. 21, 2010 - PRLog -- Why Should One Attend a Grief Support Group?

Grief support. It’s a combination of two words that expose two factors about our emotional state. The word Grief exposes our sadness, our fears, our possible depression, despair, and anger. While the word support exposes our need for help, our need for a listening ear, our need for a word of wisdom, while hopefully discovering a plan to move forward living our life, while remembering the one we lost. Although these two words adequately define who we may be while in the grieving process, these characteristics rarely lead us to a grief support group.

Why put a group of grieving people together?

That seems to be the question, so here is my attempt at an answer. In a grief support group there's empathy, friendship, a non judgmental environment, and hope. A grief support group is a place where we have a voice; a voice to tell our story, a voice to cry out, a voice to be angry, and a voice to be honest.

Although grief support groups offer great support to the grieving and the bereaved, it’s too often that we find ourselves trying to cope with the struggles of life alone. We think all we have to do is get thru this period of time and we’ll be just fine. The truth is I’ve found the outcome of this plan to be disappointing to the bereaved individual.

Most people who attend my grief support groups attend approximately one year after the death of their loved one. Most of them enter my group saying the same thing, “I thought that I could handle it on my own”. The truth is some people can, and some people can’t. None the less, as we grieve the loss of a loved one, we must understand that the Grief Support Group is there to help, and if we feel that we do need help, than we should take advantage of it. We should reach out to a grief support group who is reaching out to us in our time of need. Because if we don’t, we may soon find ourselves living each day discouraged and depressed with feelings of hopelessness and despair. With that said let me introduce you to a woman by the name of Jan Rightly.

Jan called me one afternoon inquiring about my grief support group which she saw advertised in the local newspaper. I gave her the information regarding our group’s purpose and goals, and I asked her explain what led her to call me in the first place. Jan explained that her mother had passed away three years prior, and although she thought that she could cope with the grief on her own, she found great difficulty living her life since her mother’s passing.

Jan admitted that she had become distracted from doing her job effectively during the day, while neglecting to take care of her home and family in the evenings. Jan wasn’t taking care of the kids, the chores around the house had been piling up, and to top it all off, Jill confessed that her husband left her after thirteen years of marriage for another woman. His reason being, he was tired of living with someone who only thought about death, rather than taking care of her and her family’s life.

Jan stated “This was an indicator that I was experiencing some very complicated grief, but I knew that I needed help when I hadn’t showered in over two weeks, and I didn’t care about living anymore”.

I assured Jan that the grief support group would be a comfortable and safe place; a place of retreat, and support. She agreed to attend my next grief support group which so happened to be scheduled for the following morning. I arrived at the office at our agreed time of 10:00am, however, Jan never arrived. I tried to call the home number that Jan gave me, but it was a wrong number. As much as I wanted to believe that Jan would show up late, or call back and reschedule. The truth is, I never heard from Jan again.

I wish I could tell you that this doesn’t happen too often, but the truth is, this is only one of the many times that this has happened to me; in fact it happens all the time. I receive a phone call—make an appointment, and then— no show. It’s sad. I want to help. But it seems that 75% of the calls I receive for grief support groups never show up, and the reason? Well that’s just it, what is the reason?

I’ve come to find two very common reasons people have for avoiding the grief support groups setting.

1) A grief support group often causes the bereaved to open up and discuss one of the most painful things that they’ve had to endure in life. And because it hurts so bad to think about it, they’d rather not discuss it.

2) A grief support group is filled with other people who are also sad. The concerned question is, “How is a group of crying people going to help me feel better? I think it will just make me even sadder.”

The truth is there are many reasons and feelings that will help us avoid the grief support group; a lack of time, insufficient childcare, a lack of money, etc…etc…etc! I agree that these are good reasons that will keep us away from a grief support group. But the question I have for you is—are these reasons really reasons, or are they excuses?

Listen; if you’re experiencing grief let me encourage you to seek out a local grief support group. There are many grief support groups that are offered to the community for free through different Hospice agencies and hospitals. Just look in the phone book, make some calls, and interview them. Ask them what their goals for you are. Ask them if they have a curriculum or a guided study that will keep you on track. Ask them anything you want, remember, you’re interviewing them to see if they are going to be able to help you or not.

A healthy grief support group will give their members the opportunity to:

• Share their story of grief.
• Openly express your feelings in a safe non judgmental environment.
• Find encouragement from an experienced grief counselor and other members of the grief support group.
• Discover useful tools on how to live with grief, while discovering a new world and a new identity.

In short, grief support groups are a good way for the bereaved to learn how to move through the grieving process, while still continuing their pursuit of life, and if you’ve found difficulty living your life as a result of the death of a loved one, then I encourage you to join and become actively involved a grief support group today. Not only will you find help and guidance in your time of need, but you’ll find a group of people who care; a group of people who are grieving. You’ll find a group of people who need you, just as much as you need them.

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Joe Prainito is a full time Hospice Pastor, Speaker, the Author of "Living and Dying Without Regret', and just released "Climbing the End of Your rope". Joe Prainito is available for speaking upon request on the topics of "Grief and Bereavement", "Finding hope when all hope is lost", "How to effectively counsel the grieving", and "How to effectively grieve". Joe is also available for church speaking engagements, appearances, and book signings. Joe Prainito publishes Podcasts available through iTunes, and has created iPhone apps "Grief Support, and his own app "Joe Prainito".
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