Leadership / 12.05.23
For the Love of … Grieving People
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by INTIX media partner Venue Professional magazine in their November/December 2023 edition.
The night of Tuesday, Aug. 29, was the second of our newest 13-week Grief Share classes that I co-lead along with my wife, Charlotte. We have been facilitating a Grief Share class now for six years, and this is our 12th session. I did the math, and Aug. 29 was the 145th night to be in a room to support and give the grieving hope that there can be a better tomorrow despite the loss of a loved one.
Why do I spew these numbers? It is not to pat myself on my back or seek any acknowledgment, but rather to share that there is no place I would rather be than in a room of people whose hearts are raw, whose tears flow like burst dams, whose words are ready to be spoken but simply can’t leave the mouth.
Grief Share is not easy nor, I suppose, should it be. I am a Grief Share alum myself. I am thankful that I spent two 13-week cycles going through the class to address my grief after the passing of my wife, Tanya, on Jan. 30, 2015. I had already gone through the loss of my brother, Rex, in 2007 when he died instantly at age 48 from a massive heart attack while driving. In 2012, my mom died at age 71 one month after having hernia surgery. Both deaths were unexpected and a shock but, to that time, I soldiered along as best I could with those major losses.
When Tanya, also 48, passed suddenly during an angiogram procedure, it was more than I could handle.
Enter the discovery of Grief Share, where for 13 weeks I was in a room with fellow grievers who had also experienced loss — be it a spouse, parent, sibling, close friend or child. I came to understand that I was not the only person who had suffered a major body blow but was in a group with fellow grievers whose pain was as deep as mine.
We learned that grief is unique and, of course, very personal. We learned that no two people grieve alike. We learned that sometimes despite other people pushing their sincere best wishes that our loved ones would want us to “move on,” you simply don’t just “move on” from someone you have loved. There is no timetable that a griever should or must adhere to in this journey. We learned that “moving forward” is much more palatable to hear and try to do to honor our loved one as well as our own remaining time on this planet.
Grief Share is a national organization headquartered in North Carolina. I encourage you to visit its website at www.griefshare.org. If you or someone you know is grieving the loss of a loved one, simply go to the website, click on the “Find a Group” tab at the top of the site, type in your zip code and you will instantly see a list of sites hosting a Grief Share group in your area. It’s that easy.
Most people in our group hear about it through our church, which promotes the class, and just show up. Grief is a strange thing to wrap your arms around. It can be quite elusive and hard to get a handle on. We have had numerous people register online through Grief Share. I am notified of those registrants and send an email to thank them for signing up and having the courage to address their personal grief. Most of those who sign up do not show up.
Why is this? The notification I get gives the exact time someone went to the website to sign up. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone sign up at 3 or 4 a.m. That tells me the person is unable to sleep. Grief can hurt that much. At that very moment, the individual knows grief help is needed, but when the actual night for the class rolls around, that person simply cannot muster the energy to get in the car to come be in a room where grief is shared with the eventual goal of providing hope for the future.
Many of you know the story, but I met Charlotte in Grief Share. Her husband passed two months before my wife. By the end of a full year in class together, we became close friends, and eventually, God bonded us in marriage. Together, Grief Share means so much to us and is something we want to pass along.
I would recommend not delaying or denying your grief or using “substitutes” to confront your grief, be it alcohol, shopping, eating, you name it.
Consider this about grief:
“Grief is like glitter.
When you try to clean it up, you will never get it all. Even long after the event, you will still find glitter tucked in the corners. It will always be there.”
But so can be hope.
Editor’s Note: R.V. Baugus recently retired from serving as Senior Editor of Venue Professional magazine for 22 years.
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Tags: Leadership , Grief