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Support Group Didn't Help - What Now?


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Hi everyone,

I feel very comfortable on this forum and have already received great support from the people here. You encourage and inspire me. I'm learning a lot from those who've been inhabiting this world of grief longer than I have. That's why it would be good to hear your thoughts on the following issue.

The forum helps me, but I feel I need additional counseling. I met individually with a grief counselor from the hospice where my husband died and she encouraged me to come to one of their local support group meetings. I went, but hearing the other group members' sad stories made me feel uncomfotable even more depressed than I already was. (For some reason, hearing the stories of the people on this forum doesn't have those effects.)

I know that support group meetings aren't right for everybody. But should I go to at least one more meeting before giving up on them? Individual counseling seems like a better fit for me, but I'd probably have to ask the hospice to assign me to a new counselor since the person I talked with before doesn't seem to want to meet with me privately.

Should I give the support group another chance, or follow my instincts and seek individual counseling?

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I think you should try it again, sometimes it is hard going the first couple of times. i went to one for 8 weeks and somenights bothered me more then others. i know do one once a month and it really helps to see how far i have come ( i didnt think i would make it ). it also give me comfort to know that i may something to someone that just may help, even a little. keep trying, sometimes just getting out of the house helps and you may find a new friend. Lori

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Hi Kathy,

Lori has some good ideas there. I kind of go back and forth, maybe a few more times just to see, but intuition is also a very good thing. If it were me, I'd give it another go and if that didn't work at least I'd know. I'm not one for leaving things up in the air where I would wonder. Let us know what you're going to do.

Your friend, Karen :wub:;)

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I only went to one support meeting in my area and it didn't work for me but I think if I could have found one in my area with people my age it maybe would have helped. The one I went to were people in their 70's plus and it was more or less a tea party rather than grief suppoort. They were all retired and I just didn't fit in. When I told them I still talked to my husband they looked at me as though I had totally lost it. I'm hampered with my work schedule to find one to meet the times I could go. I would give yours another try or go with your gut instinct and do the individual counseling. For me the people here on this forum is what has been my lifeline because we all "get it". Ones who have journeyed longer than I give me hope for a new beginning in the future and the ones in the same time frame as I hold the same feelings as I do at this point in the journey, thus making me feel less insane. For me I need people who have been there, not someone reading something out of a book on how you should feel. The new doctor I went to when my blood pressure went out the roof was young, had no clue and to sum it up, why don't I just prescribe drugs. I hope you will find the help that meets your needs, don't give up. And we are always here for you.


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I totally agree with Suzanne, this group has been a saviour to me, I don't know what I would have done without everyone. Myself I am very happy with just this group as I can come here day or night, dressed or in my pj's beautiful weather or blizzard and blurt out my feelings or have a conversation. I don't want to go to a group where there are alot of older people as nice as they might be or tied down to a day and time for my sessions. Marty has done a wonderful job with this site and it is so nice to come here and find you are not alone in your feelings or experiences. To me this site is my home away from home and everyone here is my extended family.



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Kathy, dear ~

The fact that you found it difficult to be in an "in person" grief support group at this point in your grief journey is not at all unusual, for the very reasons you describe: Your husband died barely six weeks ago, you've only just begun to confront the harsh realities of this profound loss, and you may not feel ready yet to "be there" for others in their pain. That's why we usually suggest that mourners wait a few months after the death of a loved one before joining an "in person" support group, until they're a bit further "down the road" and feel strong enough to listen to other people's stories of loss. (Even as I say this, however, it's important to bear in mind that everyone is different in this regard; some people are more "group-oriented" than others, and such folks are quite comfortable and do quite well in a group setting right away. Like everything else in grief, no one "rule" applies to everyone.)

You say that hearing the stories of the people on this forum doesn't make you feel uncomfortable or even more depressed, but I think that has to do with the fact that here you can come and go as you choose, and if you prefer, you can also remain in the background, as hidden and anonymous and invisible as you want to be.

Depending on where you are in your own grief process, you may not feel the need for a support group just yet, but that may change over time. There is no right or wrong time to come to a meeting, but if you decide to do so, you might try coming to several meetings rather than just one, since each one changes depending on the composition of the group and what is discussed in it. Once you've found a support group, make sure it's made up of mourners with whom you can identify, whose facilitator is not only comfortable running support groups, but also knowledgeable about the grief process. Hospice of the Valley provides ongoing grief support groups at various times and locations throughout the Valley. If none of these groups suits you or fits with your schedule, the bereavement staff will help you find alternatives offered by other organizations in the community. Just call the Bereavement Office (602-530-6970) for further information.

You say that right now it feels as if individual counseling would be a better fit for you, so it seems to me that you've already answered your own question. You know yourself better than anyone else does, Kathy, and it's important that you do what feels right for you.

Even if you're mourning in a normal, healthy way, it is wise to use all the resources available to help you recover your balance and put your life back together again. Sometimes friends and family may worry too much about you, or get too involved in your personal affairs, or not be available to you at all. When it seems that support from friends and family is either too much or not enough, a few sessions with a bereavement counselor may give you the understanding and comfort you need.

Unlike friendship, an individual counseling relationship offers you the opportunity to relate to a caring, supportive individual who understands the grief process, doesn't need you to depend upon, and will allow you to mourn without interference. Within the safety and confidentiality of a therapeutic relationship, you can share your intimate thoughts, make sense of what you're feeling, and clarify your reactions. An effective bereavement counselor is knowledgeable about the grief process, helps you feel understood, offers a witness to your experience, encourages you to move forward, fosters faith that you will survive, and offers hope that you will get through your mourning. You said the counselor with whom you've met "doesn't seem to want to meet with me privately." If that is the case, if you don't sense that this counselor has a good understanding of your particular needs, or doesn't seem like the person who can help you, you should feel free to try another counselor. Again, I encourage you to contact the HOV Bereavement Office for further information.

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Kathy: I waited about 6 months after each of my husbands died before going to the group in my area. With each there were different counselors, and different types of people.

Recently our group changed a lot. Before we had concerned, caring, polite individuals and we all bonded and worried about each other. Most left, however, and totally different types of people have joined. They are loud, self centered, and monopolize the group with a clique they created among themselves. I no longer go much. They have legal problems and family problems and that is what ties up the time rather than learning how to cope with grief or supporting each other by sharing our feelings over deaths.

It changes. Sometimes hearing people brings you down but also sometimes you gain an insight you didn't have before, or find that by measuring your reactions you can gauge how you've changed. Sometimes you can help someone by sharing your experience. But you need time first to adjust and deal with YOUR situation, and that takes some time . Try it again later when you have a handle on your self and the situation is less raw.


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Thanks, everybody, for your wisdom and for welcoming me into the fold here. I knew you'd give me good guidance. And I'll continue being a regular part of the community here.

For now, I'm going to take Marty's advice and find a new counselor I can meet with individually. I don't think the in-person support group I attended was at fault, it was more that I wasn't ready to be there. I'll probably give that group or another local one a second chance later. But as Jo said, my loss is still too fresh and I haven't been in this situation long enough yet to be able to help someone else by sharing my experiences -- though I DO want to help others when I have a better handle on my grief. Right now, it controls me rather than vice versa.

These last few weeks, I've been feeling more and more strongly that somehow, I'm being called to become a helper for others (in what way exactly, I don't know; I've been praying to God to show me). I have the desire to help, but realize that I'm not now in a position to - I feel like a musician who wants to compose songs but hasn't yet learned to read and write music.

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Good for you, Kathy ~ you sound like a person with a lot of insight, who knows yourself pretty well. Keep listening to and following the good advice you're already giving to yourself! And keep coming here to experience and share in the warmth, compassion and deep understanding that all our members continually demonstrate toward one another. If you find yourself one day being "called to become a helper for others," I can think of no better preparation and "training" than this. I hope you know that you're already helping others, just by being here and actively participating in our forums.

Don't hurry yourself. This is a process that takes place over time, and at some point along the way, you will begin to feel the need to channel your pain, as well as the time and energy once devoted to your relationship with your loved one, into something productive and meaningful. As one who truly understands the grief process, you will feel ready to reach out to others who are suffering the pain of loss. When you've traveled far enough on this grief journey, you'll find that you have a great deal to share with other mourners: You will identify with their struggles, empathize with their sorrows and doubts, and offer valuable information and support.

If you think you may want to work in this field in a more formal way some day, hold onto that dream. I think you'll find that most of the people who are called to work with the bereaved are themselves "wounded healers" ~ and that includes me, too :wub:

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