May 15, 2018
Getting Through Grief
In the fall of 2017, following a 15-month challenge with cancer, Abbie Strother’s mother passed away at EveryStep Hospice's Kavanagh House on 56th Street.
Abbie’s mother had been her go-to person for all emotionally challenging situations. With her mother no longer with her, Abbie needed a different way to get her emotions out. Anger, frustration, and confusion filled her mind during this stressful time.
With great hesitation and a desire to better understand her own grief, Abbie made the promise to herself to attend at least three support group sessions provided by EveryStep Hospice Services. She told herself that if she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t continue to go.
Abbie dragged herself to that first support group and attempted to tell the group who she was and why she was there. Her untamed emotions formed a knot in her throat – like giving a speech in front of a huge audience, except that audience was only a small classroom of fellow grievers. Although a rocky start to the eight-week “Understanding Your Grief” educational support group, Abbie went back the following week, and by week three she was looking forward to seeing her group each week.
Now, when speaking of her experience with the support group, Abbie described the group as “a really safe place to just talk it out and say whatever’s in your heart without fear of rejection, criticism or judgement.” As Abbie explains it, “There are these pieces that are universal, that we all feel, that we all experience, that we can help each other through; and then there are these pieces that are entirely unique to your situation.”
It is not uncommon to struggle with grief after the loss of a loved one, and almost everyone experiences their own journey of grief at some point. Even though grief is extremely normal, “we live in a society that is really uncomfortable with grief, and that makes it really uncomfortable for grieving people,” Abbie explained. Abbie learned, “it’s about integrating grief into my life, it’s not about it going away or fixing it, the loss of my mom is forever a part of me.”
EveryStep's grief and loss services’ grief support groups are offered free of cost to all community members. The “Understanding Your Grief” eight-week educational support groups are offered several times a year, and monthly support groups are also offered.
When asked what she would say to others going through the grieving process, Abbie said, “if they feel even the slightest tug in their heart…go [to the support group], you’re not out anything for going.” If you or someone you know are currently navigating the journey of grief and could use a little guidance or just a listening ear, please reach out to EveryStep grief and support services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Kyle Cass, Drake University Community Writing student