Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Misery Loves Company

A couple months after Jill passed I received a letter, an invitation in the mail from the organization that managed our hospice care.  It was for a grief group.

This core group would meet for 90 minutes every Tuesday for four weeks.  If interested, a broader group then convened once a month after that.

To my surprise, I quickly jumped at the opportunity to join the circle.  (I think Jill'd be proud.)

The meetings were held in a church.

I have an odd aversion to churches.  They tend to make me feel uneasy.  Maybe I'll chalk it up to watching the Exorcist one too many times.

I remember my first visit w/ Jill's family in Dubuque, Iowa.  They generously offered the full experience, capped off w/ an evening of bingo at one of the local churches.  Upon entering the church, my soon-to-be brother-in-law followed me thru the doorway, quickly, but covertly making an alarm sound.

I turned back to him.  "What is that?"

"It must be the Jew alarm.  They know you're here."

And so my discomfort w/ churches continues.

Anywho...

The grief group consisted of eight widow(er)s, five folding chairs, four well-worn cushioned chairs, one social worker, one dimly lit candle. and no bad coffee.

Black.  White.  Female.  Male.  Young.  Old.  We've got 'em all.

Unfortunately the common thread that bonded us was the fact that we'd all lost a spouse w/in the last year (minus the social worker).

Each week our moderator would tee up a topic or two for us to bat around.

Once again, I surprised myself w/ my willingness - almost eagerness - to be open with everyone in the room.  Why not?  I thought to myself.  Can't hurt, right?  Maybe my experience and interpretation of it will even help someone.

(I think b/c I no longer have Jilly to spill to, I find myself spewing personal reflections in the direction of anyone that is pointing an ear in my direction.  Sorry...and thanks for listening.)

Not unlike these posts, the tone I struck in the room was one of raw, (IMO) constructive honesty, often peppered with humor to dilute some of the drama.  In other words, I felt I was able to be myself (whatever that is at any given moment).

One of the aspects of these meetings that I seem to revert back to is the tears.  Not from me.  In fact, just the opposite.  The tears of most everyone else in the group.  They appeared to flow freely.  The tissue box zigzagging across the circle, making its way from one melancholic lap to the next.  And I couldn't - can't - help thinking to myself, Why aren't you crying, Jason?  Get in there.  Show them, show yourself how deeply and utterly morose you are right now.

Nothing.

On the one hand, I can justify this absence of tears.  Everyone grieves differently.  Personal sadness manifests itself in different ways.  Tears for you.  Extreme exhaustion for me.

But, I don't focus on that hand.  I look at the other hand.

On the other hand, where are the fucking tears?  Am I all dried up?  Did I deplete my allotment at that moment Jill passed?  (It's possible.  I don't recall ever crying like that before in my life.)

Honestly, I think I just want to be sure I'm doing it right.  That I'm properly grieving.  I don't want to avoid it.  I don't want to elongate it.  I just want it to happen as it is supposed to naturally happen w/in me.  B/c (selfishly) I believe that's the only way I'll get closer to healing.

I wonder if anyone else questions their personal grieving process.  Do they wonder if they're doing it right?  Are they checking the box next to each stage of grief?

Maybe I'll bring this question up at next month's meeting.

All love,

J, J, & r





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