As a grief counselor/therapist, I have many people say to me "that has to be really hard work." And while, yes, the content covered in sessions with my clients can be really heavy at times, there are also unbelievably beautiful moments hidden throughout the entire grief process (to get an idea of what this process may look like, I invite you to view "Looking Behind The Grief Work Curtain" on my Exposing Grief YouTube Channel). I'd like to share one of those beautiful experiences with you.
****DISCLAIMER: Please note, consent to share this story has been obtained from the individuals involved and details, such as names, have been changed or left out to ensure no identifying information is disclosed.
Earlier this month, I had the privilege of facilitating a few grief groups for another therapy clinic. On the second day of three, one of the group members (let's call him Jack; not his real name) opened up about his grief; telling us about a previous loss he has yet to properly grieve. As he continued in his story, sharing obstacles to processing his grief and feelings of guilt attached to his loss, another group member (let's call him Brian; not his real name) interjected, said, "I want you to read this" and tossed Jack an object of his. The object was a ring with a saying printed on the inside that carried significance to the relationship Brian had with the individual who gave him the ring. After Jack read it, Brian continued to say, "I think you're talking about the same person." After sharing a few other stories, they learned they had, in fact, lost and are grieving the same person. Jack did his best to hold back the emotions he's so fearful of displaying and softly said to Brian, "Wow! Thank you for this."
In this moment, I paused the group to highlight the beauty that was shining through in both of these group members' grief journeys. Here is what I noticed happening:
Through Jack opening up and welcoming us in, he allowed Brian to feel connected with the deceased individual these two both share a bond with in a way he's probably never experienced before.
In Brian sharing his vulnerable object with Jack, he also allowed Jack to feel connected with his deceased friend in a way he may never thought possible.
Brian's gesture was also a great example of how talking about our grief and sharing memories of our deceased loved one(s) (for other ways to remember your loved ones read my previous blog Remembering Your Loved One(s)) with others can actually provide a stepping stone within our grief journeys.
In addition to all these beautiful happenings, this interaction exemplifies how our deceased loved ones can still show up in our lives (and even foster new connections) despite their physical absence.
I share this story to bring awareness to the power held in sharing about our grief and deceased loved ones. I also bring this story to you to provide hope that you, too, will be able to experience how your deceased loved one(s) continues to show up and impact your life. While we may not have the power to promise ourselves this experience, we certainly can encourage it by creating opportunities via sharing and talking about our deceased loved ones.
I'll leave you with his, how can you encourage the beauty within your grief journey to shine through?
Here's to living a better life as your best self.
Brittany Squillace, MA, LMFT