Life Today

Grief Group Rebel

I want you to know that if you ever decide to moderate a grief group, you should not invite me. 

I tend to be a little rebellious……sit down in my leather jacket, slumped in my seat all like “yeah….grief group moderator….what are you going to tell me about my grief process….yeah” 

Someday I’m going to get kicked out. 

Heather, you take yourself and your bad grief attitude into the hall! 

And I know, I know, when I’m going to turn off the poor person trying to facilitate. It’s when they start talking about themselves and how they got into this field. Which I totally appreciate but I don’t care. I’m grieving and it should be about me. 

Hubs would sigh and say it’s always about me. 

I think it’s hard to talk to a group of bereaved parents about how to deal with grief if you are not a bereaved parent yourself or if you don’t approach the topic with humility and grace. I think it would be great if someone came in and saidHey, I have not lost a child. I cannot even pretend to grasp what you have gone through. I have no clue. But I will tell you what has worked for other people and maybe something I say tonight will stick. If not, kudos on getting dressed and being here. And help yourself to TWO lemon bars” 

That would be refreshing. 

I was asked to help in a grief group yesterday and I swear they will  never invite me back. I wasn’t awful but I did roll my eyes a lot and when we had ‘table discussion time’, I could not hold back. 

Lippy some might say…..lippy. 

And it wasn’t that this session seemed like a bad topic! It was about about transforming your life after loss, something we all try to do, to put this into something livable. 

But I have hard time with the whole what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

No one in that room wanted to be stronger. No one wanted to be told to put on the big girl pants…they do everyday. 

The final quote that left me giggling in the back was from Nelson Mandela, who I admire and think was an amazing man but the quote was about prison and the fact that when he came out of prison, he “came out mature.” 

I have felt many things in this five year journey mature seems to be an odd one. I am many things, mature is not one of them. 

“How is Heather doing?” 

“She is fine. She is mature.” 

And my point here is not to bash this group or this woman but you now know why you would not invite me to your grief group because I am many things but not mature. 

I do find it frustrating the lack of resources for bereaved parents: a lack of understand about this process and what we will carry with us for the rest of our lives. We will carry it proudly, we will carry it with sadness, we will dance as will carry our load

Or not

But we will carry it 

And you can’t fix it. And that is okay. 

The group ended with a metaphor of taking the pieces of a shattered vase and turning it into a beautiful mosaic. My job as the table monitor was to ask the group if they could modify old assumptions about life to conform to this new reality….to take their shattered vase and turn it into a mosaic.  

I hate the word conform. Especially when it comes to grief and newly bereaved parents. 

“Screw it,” I said to the table. “You don’t have to conform to anything. You just lost your child. You can tell your mosaic to go to hell.” 

Now granted, I did say it a whisper as I gathered the table around. Because although I’m a lippy insurgent, I am also a chicken. 

“Thank you for saying that.” One woman said. 

“Can I take a hammer to the mosaic?” Said another. 

That’s right, Heather Schichtel….grief group rebel….living on the edge. 

1 thought on “Grief Group Rebel”

  1. I love this!! Very well said. I think we were all feeling a little overwhelmed with that lady's 'Reform thyself!' attitude! Thank goodness our moderator was a rebel!The saving grace was being given time to talk to each other at our table about reality….and we were all qualified with true understanding. Thank you for moderating and telling us we could %#^%$## the mosaic!!!!


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