I have been going to grief counseling every Sunday since the day after Saylor's first birthday. My Mom and I go together. I can't tell you how scary it was the first time I walked into that grief share room. The chairs were in a small circle with a small group of people. When the meeting started, I was the first one to talk. I said "My name is Stephanie Smith, I'm from Conway and my Dad died". My Mom immediately started crying. She said through her sobs that she was "sorry and she hated to hear me even say those words". My mom told everyone what happened to my Dad. There were lots of tears from both of us. We left that meeting not really knowing if it helped or hurt us. The next week, we went again to give it another try. From that meeting on, we pretty much live for our Sunday afternoon Grief Share small group. We have become a very close group. We feel safe when we're together and we can say anything. I usually completely break down in front of everyone and cry while trying to talk. That sounds awful, but it's good to get it out. I like listening to their stories too. Several have lost a parent and several have lost a husband or wife, two have lost a child. It's good to hear how they are coping and what works for them and what doesn't work for them.
One of the best pieces of advise I've learned in coping with the death of my Dad is "Do the Next Thing". My mom and I live by this. When we find ourselves completely overwhelmed with grief we tell ourselves "Do the next thing"... for me that's usually changing a diaper or starting a load of laundry. I go. I do it. Then I do the next thing, and the next and the next. Those words are what gets me through the day.
I did not attend my meeting last Sunday. That was the day I found out about my friend Matt. I just couldn't do it. I needed to stay home with my husband and kids. My Mom went by herself. Yesterday's meeting was a good one. It was about forgiving people who don't understand. I get so angry sometimes when people tell me they know how I feel (and they don't). Or when they say things like "he's in a better place" or "It was his time". True or not, it's NOT what I want to hear. Also in the meeting, they touched on the subject of regret. I regret going home after Cindy's wedding and not going to the hospital for the last 15 minutes of visiting hours the night he died. I was just so tired. I knew I would be back at the hospital at 6am the next morning and be there all day. Little did I know he would be gone a few hours later.
For the people who don't understand, I'm sure they are thinking I should be better by now. It's been 5 1/2 months. But I'm not better. The grief is still as raw as it was the night it happened. I don't see that ending any time soon. Also in my meeting we've discussed how some people try to rush your grief. They are just ready for you to be happy again. Unfortunately you can't rush your grief. It takes as long as it takes.
So today it Monday, which means it's going to be a long time until my next meeting on Sunday. So, for now, I'm going to "do the next thing" and clean my messy kitchen.
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