Grief is a journey that most of us will travel at least once in our lives. It is a journey none of us choose to take, because to grieve means to acknowledge that a loss has occurred. That loss may have been unexpected, or it may have been a long, drawn-out process. It may be the loss of parent, child, spouse, friend, pet, relationship, or anyone who matters in your life. Grief is inevitable. It is how we cope with it that matters.
There is no formula for grief, no one best way to handle it, no sure-fire plan to protect us from it. Grief is a journey that must be gone through—no one can go over, under, or around it without consequences. It is a fact, a natural part of life. We ignore that at our peril.
Everyone handles grief differently. At one time, the groundbreaking work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross gave us a map we thought we could follow, with steps including denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. These steps are still relevant, but now we know that any particular person’s grief experience may include all of these, or none. They may be visited in any order, or more than once, as each person travels their unique journey through grief. We may stall out on a particular step or skip one entirely. We may experience other steps such as relief, hope, emptiness, or frustration. There really is no single way to grieve. And so many of us think that because our own journey is unique, we must travel it alone.
Not so! This is where it is valuable to have a grief group to support you. In a grief group, you will find a safe place to speak about what you are going through. Talking with others who are experiencing or have experienced grief can be a tremendously comforting way to lay down our own burdens of grief for a while among those who understand. We can hear their stories and see our own through a different lens. We can tell our story and know that judgment is left behind and compassion is the response. And most of all, we can find that there is healing to be had in grief, so that when we come out the other side, we do so as people who have been through a difficult time, but who are ready to go on, incorporating the loss into our daily lives in a healthy and helpful way.
At Lutheran Living, we offer a Grief Group on the third Tuesday of the month at 11:00 a.m. in the chapel. This is not a faith-based group, although questions of faith may naturally arise. All who are grieving or who have it on their hearts to help those who grieve are welcome to attend.
For more information, contact the chaplain, Pastor Susan Bantz, at (563) 506-3790.