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Question RE: Bereavement Groups

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Hello.

What exactly goes on in a bereavement support group? My husband's cancer center offers such a group.

Hatshepsut

bingles
Posts: 120
Joined: Mar 2010

My husband's hospice offers a berevement group....run by a berevement counselor...its just a place to go and vent and exchange feelings with others that have gone though the same thing and get some insight into how to handle the grief of losing a spouse.
I found it helpful.
Pat

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Pat:

Thank you for your reply.

I lost my husband of more than forty years in May. He had colon cancer. In trying to cope with his loss, I find it very difficult to talk to people about his death, particularly the first time people learn that he has died. I'm a very private person and showing my sorrow in public is very upsetting to me. As a consequence, I'm pretty much dealing with my loss alone.

One of our home health nurses suggested that I might join a bereavement support group at our local hospital. On the one hand it sounds like a place to learn some coping strategies. On the other hand, the prospect of sharing my very personal loss with a group of strangers disturbs me.

Typically, are bereavement support group meetings structured with guest speakers and presentations or do people just sit around and chat? If you attend a group, are you expected to share your experience with the group or is it optional (i.e. do they do the typical "lets go around the table and ask each person to share their feelings?")

Hatshepsut

bingles
Posts: 120
Joined: Mar 2010

Bill and I would have been together 33yrs on May 11th of this year...he passed on April 21st...quietly and in his own home as he wished...he had lung cancer.
Now the group I am part of is unique..there is no mandatory "sharing"..its an open forum...sometimes folks share and sometimes they don't...there is no obligation to do so.
I am not a sharer by nature, but after a few meetings I felt comfortable and did share some of my issues...the big one being the silence of being alone...we have no children together ( he had 5 children from a previous marriage)...so I am totally alone now...and we were a quiet couple all of our marriage...loners if you will and now that aspect of our marriage has left a huge void in my world.
When I shared this I got many...many suggestions from others and did find it helpful.
I have missed several weeks lately due to my returning to the workforce..and I really miss it..going back is on my list of things to do.
I think in all the time I have been going I might have "shared" maybe three times...I tend to get all emotional when talking about the whole thing...its still quite raw.
There is no right or wrong in this grieving process..
Hope this helps...but remember all groups are run differently...need to find the right fit!
Pat

ruthelizabeth
Posts: 146
Joined: May 2009

In my area all the groups meet in the morning or around mid-day. I work all day so it's virtually impossible to attend.

And frankly I wonder if it would really help or if it would just bring things up all over again.

Noellesmom
Posts: 1302
Joined: Aug 2010

RuthElizabeth,

Bringing up old feelings is not necessarily a bad thing but I do agree one must be ready. It isn't something that anyone needs to feel pressured to do. Most bereavement groups operate on the premise that a person only shares what they feel like sharing and if that is just their presence, then that's all that is shared.

If you want to try a bereavement group, ask the organizers of the existing ones if anyone has expressed interest in having an evening meeting. If not, talk to the pastor of your church (or any local church) and ask if it is possible for the church to sponsor one. Or consider starting an evening group yourself. I would doubt you are the only person interested in seeing one held in the evening hours.

A local funeral home actually sponsors a bereavement group in the city where I live. That may be another place to check.

You will know when, and if, you are ready to attend. Participation is a separate step.

Hugs to you.

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

It has been four months since I lost my husband. I attended my first bereavement support group meeting last night.

I'm not sure what I expected but once the facilitator began talking about how natural it is to be totally overwhelmed when you lose a "great love" and how the process of grieving could take two years (or more), I fell apart. Lots of tears through the entire one and a half hour session.

I am a very private person. Losing my composure in front of a group of strangers was pretty devastating.

I thought that I was getting a bit better after four months but I guess I was just getting better at holding everything in. The facilitator told the group that it is OK (and even beneficial) to let yourself experience intense emotional moments regularly. It is part of facing the reality of your loss, she said. I don't know how I feel about that. It seems to me that embracing too many tears could lengthen the process of healing.

I do know that I feel emotionally drained this morning.

Hatshepsut

Noellesmom
Posts: 1302
Joined: Aug 2010

Was just what it should be for you, Hatshepsut.

I am also a very private person, more than anyone else I know. I tend to hold things in and did not really know until recently how much it was hurting me.

I actually found myself angry with a copying machine in my office when it kept stalling on my process. Sounds like a silly thing but it made me realize how much anger I have pent up inside me about my husband's illness and its consequences on our lives and the possibility of losing him. I don't normally get angry with machines :)

When my brother died the day before we got a confirmation on my husband's cancer diagnosis a few months ago, I was already on auto-pilot. I'm starting to see how serious this can be.

Crying is a good, healthy, normal thing to do.

I'm glad you got some of it out. I really am.

3Mana
Posts: 829
Joined: Aug 2010

Hatshepsut,
It's going to be 6 months the 25th since I lost my husband. The least little thing can still set me off crying. Last night I went to my grandson's football game and cried all the way home, cause I missed my husband. He always liked going to the games. Never went to one of their baseball games this summer.
As for the bereavement groups. I see a counselor and she said sometimes those groups can make you more depressed. It's nice talking to the counselor cause it's one on one. I also take an anti-depressant which helps alot.
Just hang in there and if you feel like crying, do it. It's just so hard being without them and knowing they;ll never be back. You're not alone!!! "Carole"

lilli1020
Posts: 114
Joined: Jul 2010

I agree...the thought of the grieving process taking so long is just overwhelming. Right now, I am in a sort of "denial" period. I have been keeping very busy, being with friends and family a lot lately. I havent cried in a few days now, and I feel like I know I am just going to lose it totally anytime now and be incapacitated for who knows how long. This up and down is devastating but I know I will make it through....I just hope and pray it won't take so very long...I don't think I could take it!

God bless, Gayle

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Thanks for your replies and supportive words.

I made it through the second session of the bereavement support group. I only cried about two-thirds of the session. Is that progress or what?????

Yesterday was a pretty tough day anticipating the meeting at 5:30 p.m. After my melt-down at the first meeting, I guess I was afraid that they would vote me off the island. They didn't.

Our "homework" is to do an hour a day of what the therapist calls "grief work." That seems to mean that you face your grief head on for an hour and get the crying out of your system. Some people said they used the time to write letters to the loved one they lost. For those of you who have participated in bereavement groups, did you do something similar? Do you have any other ideas for how to approach this hour? I'm willing to give it a try but it sounds profoundly sad and I worry about opening up an outpouring of grief that I can't turn off.

Hatshepsut

lilli1020
Posts: 114
Joined: Jul 2010

I am starting bereavement counseling in a few days and I hope I can cry in front of a strange person who knows what I am going through. I have also heard, and I keep it in my head, that tears are "cleansing" and then I don't feel so bad about crying at the drop of a hat.

Good luck, Gayle

Noellesmom
Posts: 1302
Joined: Aug 2010

Is this one-on-one or a group, Gayle? Different things work for different people.

Just curious which you are trying. And, of course, we want to hear how it goes.

Hugs.

lilli1020
Posts: 114
Joined: Jul 2010

It's going to be 1/1, but didnt happen yesterday. Power went out from a storm, so rescheduled for next week. We will see!!!

ktlcs's picture
ktlcs
Posts: 360
Joined: Jan 2010

I have my first appointment today, one on one with a pyschiatrist who's practice is dedicated to gried counseling. I lost my husband to colon cancer 2 months ago. I don't know what to expect, I am apprehensive but hoping she can help me work through this, anything has got to be better than how I feel now.

Kathy

Noellesmom
Posts: 1302
Joined: Aug 2010

We are with you in thought and spirit. Please let us know how it goes, Kathy.

Edward W
Posts: 30
Joined: Oct 2010

Hatshepsut. A beautiful Egyptian Queen, wasn't she ?.
A beareavement support group are those who have lost loved ones gathering together to discuss their feelings and how to cope with them.
It is a chance to vent. unload and just dump the feelings you are going through. To know that you not alone in those feelings. That they are normal and natural. I hope you try one (or more)

Hatshepsut's picture
Hatshepsut
Posts: 340
Joined: Nov 2006

Edward:

Thank you for your post.

Since I first posted my message, I have attended a bereavement support group a number of times. The social worker who conducts the group discussions says that tears are one's ticket out of grief. If that is true, I should be in Tahiti soon. My tears flow freely throughout the sessions. I'm embarrassed by that, never having cried publicly during my 64 years of life.

I'm sure the real Hatshepsut would have held it together much better.

Hatshepsut (wannabe)

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