People dealing with a loss in their life – whether the loss of a loved one, loss of a job or anything else – will have a new option for helping them deal with that situation.
Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital is starting a new bereavement group, with the first session beginning April 2.
“Grief is not something people are prepared for,” said Rev. Dr. Gary Blaine, SBA chaplain, who has been in parish ministry more than 30 years and is a certified bereavement facilitator. “We’re not prepared for loss. It can be a time for very serious adjustment, some people become ill, some become mentally ill. They just don’t know that what is going on is very normal.”
Blaine said there is only one other bereavement support group in town, but they are more generic.
Each eight-week session will be a closed group after the first meeting. There will be three eight week sessions during the year.
“It’s not a drop-in thing,” Blaine said.
People are welcome to “drop-in” that first night of each session or they can call Blaine at SBA at 321-3300 to let him know they will be attending. He hopes to have eight to 10 participants in each session.
The sessions will begin with people sharing what they have lost during the first meeting.
“People listen to other people and think someone else has done this too and they have gotten through it,” he said. “There will always be that element of sharing.”
They also will invite people in to speak at times, as well as offer tips for dealing with loss and offer resources and information on the grieving process so people know what is normal and when to be concerned.
“It’s really helpful to hear someone say ‘for the first time in three months I went out to dinner with my friends’,” Blaine said. “They say they could feel their husband there or still miss him, but that was the first time they had been out.”
Others may think a loved one who is deceased is still in the house.
“A lot of people have that experience,” he said. “Part of what we want to do is help people understand the normal process of grief.
“We also want to let people know there is no such thing as closure. We used to say in 18 to 24 months they would have closure, and people came back and said they don’t. There is always a hole there. We can cope. We can have other relationships, new relationships, but that doesn’t mean that loss is just totally erased from your heart.”
Page 2 of 2 - Loss can also be more than loss of a loved one. It can include divorce, loss of a job or retirement.
“A lot of men have a heart attack within the first two years of retirement because they’ve lost what their whole life is about,” he said. “They feel stressed and guilty about not working. Not working can mean they were fired or retired at 70.”
There also can be losses caused by catastrophic illness.
Blaine said he meets people all the time who have never been in the hospital a day in their life then have an illness like cancer with which to cope.
“We want to help people have a healthy grief process and hopefully have a normal life,” Blaine said.
Some of the questions he often gets is it normal to cry too much or not enough, will they ever fall in love again, how long will they feel like this and what to do to get back to a normal life.
Each session will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the SBA Chapel (take elevator E to the second floor and follow the signs). There are no fees for this program, which is open to the community. The sessions will be held on Tuesdays with the first eight-week program running from April 2 through May 21.