Just as grief itself can manifest in so many different ways, so too does the therapy, the counseling, and the support. A new form of bereavement support in a group setting is now being offered by Marcus Daly Hospice. Social worker Michelle Meyer, who is heading up the program, said that she loved having the chance to experience the journey with families and be with them not just through illness and passing, but also following that.
“I feel like that’s a gift,” she said about her job.
Meyer is using a group model developed by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, author of “Understanding Your Grief.” The group meets twice a week for six weeks. The sessions are free and each participant gets a copy of Wolfelt’s book, a journal full of empty pages, and a chance to share what they are going through with a “closed group” of people each dealing with grief in their own way. A closed group means simply that new people will not be showing up during the six weeks of sessions. The sessions are confidential. Meyer calls them, “A great opportunity to grow your skills and express feelings in a safe setting that is geared towards growth and support.”
Grief, according to Meyer, is not a feeling that is easily identified because it involves so many other feelings. It also impacts people in many different ways. It may impact your health and your eating. It may amplify any physical pain or discomfort,
Fundamentally, Meyer wants to emphasize that grieving is a natural process, not something to be suppressed, ignored, compartmentalized or hurried, so much as to be “experienced from start to finish.”
There is a lot of pressure in our society, according to Meyer, once the funeral and the services are over, to “get back to work” and “get on with things.” But this, she said, is a like handing someone who is grieving a box of Kleenex and saying ‘dry your eyes’ and putting a stop to it.
For Meyer, the group sessions being offered are an opportunity for people to acknowledge their grief and go through it and, with guidance, pick up some skills at handling it.
“Grief is complicated,” said Meyer,. “It is not just about loss and love. It can be about regret, anger, and frustration.” She says it is not easy for some people to acknowledge or address the whole gamut of issues involved.
Talking, according to Meyer, is one of the most important tools we have in dealing with grief. Being able to talk freely in a safe and private place plays a big role in her methodology. But so does writing. That’s why every participant is given a journal. It provides an avenue for reflection upon what happened, what was said, shared, and learned during the sessions. It can aid in “coming to terms” with how you feel.
Meyer said that she preferred keeping the groups to ten or less people and requests that anyone interested RSVP to Marcus Daly Hospice, Michelle Meyer, LCSW, Social Worker, at 363-6503.