It was six o’clock on Wednesday evening when I signed into the audio chat room to speak about an incredibly difficult topic – grief. Grief is an umbrella term used for the tumult of emotions and reactions a person experiences after a loved one dies. It’s not always easy to put into words. Since it was my first time doing the chat, I didn’t know what was instore and felt the familiar flutter of anxiety.
One person signed on and after another, until about 17 people had joined the conversation. One offered a warm hello. Another said a timid hi there. Another asked whether their mic was working. Some were silent waiting for the conversation to begin. The moderator greeted each person warmly, before asking people whether they wanted to introduce themselves and say something about why they were there.
There were moms who had lost children. Husbands who lost wives. Daughters who lost parents. All seeking a moment of respite from the heavy blanket of sadness, confusion, anger and guilt that settles around people who are grieving. I was there to share my own experiences about grief as the cofounder of Goodgrief app, which provides peer-to-peer support. What was clear is that all our lives had changed by grief and people needed to talk about it.
Grief is a hard to experience, but even harder to share because it’s rare to find a safe space to to speak without judgement and the well-meaning, but misguided, encouragement to move on with life. What’s worse, is there’s frequently shame or guilt that comes with grief. Am I doing it wrong? Am I going crazy? Was it my fault? Could I have done something differently? Will I ever be okay?
That’s why conversations like the one I had on Circles is so important. Throughout the hour, people would chime in saying “me too,” or “I feel the same way,” or “I know exactly how that feels.” People in the group understand what the other people are going through. It’s a beautiful thing. What rose to the surface if the conversation is the deep comfort that comes from being seen and heard without judgment. People begin to realize that their feelings are normal and natural.
When I got off the phone after an hour of speaking, I felt more tender and more connected to people. It’s like a warm hug. It doesn’t fill the void of grief but helps make it more bearable. Please check it out. There’s no such thing as too much support. I’ll be back in the group on Wednesday, March 9 at 6pm. Join me. You are not alone.