Nine weeks ago I drove to my first bereavement group session. It was pouring rain. Rain came down harder than I think I’ve ever seen it do before. Wet drops pummeled my car and I knew I would be drenched the moment I got out of my car and ran for the door. I’d almost say it was foreshadowing of what lay ahead. I didn’t realize what was bottled up inside of me until I entered this group.
I ran for the door and hoped to find an array of shelter inside. Shelter from the rain. Shelter for my journey. A safe place. A resting place. That was my hope, but of course I couldn’t be sure what this experience would bring. I was full of anticipation and curiosity. I was ready to share my story and for it to be received. I was ready to meet other people who had also lost a life-partner, and knew first hand the challenges of making a family survive as an over-night only parent.
I met ten individuals through this group. They had their stories and I had my story and I wondered how all of these stories would come together.
On week three it was my time to share. In ten minutes I recounted the framework of the life I had with my husband and painted a picture of our marriage and my husband’s dying. I put my story out there and disconnected it from myself so I wouldn’t be hurt if it was met with judgment. But I couldn’t disconnect fully. As my words left my mouth and touched other human ears my lips began to quiver. These stories of mine seem to come to life when someone else is listening. They are no longer just me trying to make sense of it all as I talk to the girl in the mirror. I pursed my lips and I pushed the tang of sorrow that threatened to protrude. I left my story on the table to see what would become of it. Then I saw that my story was met with grace and understanding. Compassion and empathy. Any sense of synthetic sympathy was obsolete. Everyone in the room knew significant loss and also grasped the individuality of each unique account.
Then we met for a fourth time, and then a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth and a ninth. And then it seemed that it was all ending too soon. So we agreed as a group that although it was the last time we would meet in session, it would not be the last time we would meet.
As each amazing soul has traveled with me, and trusted me to journey with them, bonds have grown that I can only hope will continue for many years to come.
At the beginning of these sessions we physically moved from the basement of a quaint little building, into a smaller, crammed little room on a higher floor, and eventually we settled in a room that was ideal to fit us all. Such was our journey. As the room grew so did our understanding, our admiration and grace. Our stories wove together in a new chapter where we were the main characters, and our characters shone with integrity, truth, honesty, laughter, and of course, tears.
This week when I left the bereavement group rain fell from the sky but it felt a little lighter then the downpour of that initial, uncertain week.
How fitting, I thought, that the rain should usher us out as it escorted us in, only now, feeling stronger, I could walk under these tears from the sky without having to run for cover.