163 A Good Sign: I Realize I Am Not Alone in Grieving
August 21, 2022
My twin brother Don flew in from Canada last week to spend time with me. Don hadn’t been able to attend Pat’s funeral service in person, although he had watched it virtually. Once home, I asked Don to watch the service again and we did, side by side. I cried in his arms.
Three days later we visited Pat’s grave. Don told me he needed to go to the gravesite so he could say goodbye to Pat. This time it was Don who cried. And that’s when I realized I’ve been so consumed in my grief that I hadn’t thought much about all the other people who are also grieving Pat. True, I had been moved deeply when I read the many cards of condolence friends and relatives sent, often mentioning how they had been touched by Pat’s love and how they would miss her dearly. But since the funeral I hadn’t asked my children or grandchildren how they were coping with their pain. Nor had I called or texted most of the other grievers.
I realize that I’m not expected to take care of others right now. Nobody is accusing me of being uncaring. But giving Don a hug, holding him when he was in pain, pulled me a little way out of my inner focus and back into the world.
And then, just a few days later, I attended my first grief group, one that meets face to face two Mondays a month at a local hospital. There were seven attendees, including two facilitators. All the participants had lost their spouses within the last few months, to a variety of causes: cancer, an auto immune disease, sudden kidney malfunction, Covid, and Pat’s Lewy Body Dementia. Several grievers’ spouses had suffered great and continuous pain, leaving their partners traumatized; at least one person was here because no one in her family would talk about her loved one’s death. I left grateful that Pat had died peacefully with her pain well-controlled and that I had the active support of my entire nuclear and extended family. I also left with two thoughts: 1) my path of grief was only beginning and would in some ways never end; 2) I have many fellow travelers on this journey, including my family, friends, and these new friends, with whom to share thoughts and feelings.
I do plan to return to this grief group. I can’t say I felt better after it ended; actually, I felt a little chest-heavy, but I did feel emotionally connected and supported by the other grievers and the facilitators.
In the past few days, I have been reminded first, that many others are feeling their own pain because Pat died and secondly, that this world is full of grieving people, each searching for ways to survive the loss of their loved one. All in all, I believe these reminders are a positive indicator that I am moving through the obscuring fog of death and grief back into a world full of sunlight.