Friday, June 12, 2015

Bob's Story

When Bob lost his wife of more than 40 years to cancer, he felt lost.  His life was turned upside down and he struggled to get through the days.  A few months after Marjorie’s passing, his friends gently nudged him to get help to work through the pain and despondency he was feeling.  Bob said he was “not really a therapy person,” but he was willing to try something a little different and joined a Pathways Hospice grief support group.

At first Bob just listened.  What he learned was hugely reassuring: Grief is unique; each person experiences it differently.   Some people initially feel disbelief and expect to see their loved one who is gone.  Others express anger at being “abandoned” by their loved one.  Some describe feeling guilt—either for feeling anger, or for still being here, or for things they might have said or done (or didn’t say or do).  Some just have profound sadness like Bob was feeling.  He learned that it’s all normal.  

Bob was comforted by the clear message that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and that there is no set timeline.  He received encouragement not only from the group’s facilitator, but increasingly from the others in the group.  He was relieved and reassured to meet people even more distant from their loss that were still grieving.   Shared bereavement can give hope of getting through this time and learning positive ways to deal with the pain of loss.

Photo credit: jessica.diamond / Foter / CC BY-SA
Bob could see that although his family would never be the same, he would be able to accept the changes in his life and create a “new normal” with time.  He envisioned that eventually, instead of crying at memories of Marjorie, he’d be able to smile.  He learned to expect that his grief might come and go and that birthdays, anniversaries and holidays could bring it rushing back. And that all of that is normal.

Death, loss, mourning, grief—the concepts make many people uncomfortable.  Because the experiences are so different for each person, others don’t always know how to react.  They are not sure whether you want to talk about your loved one or not—so often they say nothing.  In a support group, everyone there knows what you are going through. 

Bob describes his progression as part “eye-opening discovery… and part learning from others farther down the path.”  He now finds himself more involved and more upbeat.  Bob likens his life before participating in the support group as a black and white photo, and that now the color is trickling back in; he has begun the transition into his “new normal” life. 

Pathways opens its bereavement services to anyone in the community, regardless of whether a family member received our hospice care. See Pathways grief support services on our website,

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