Last week was the first session for grief counselling. Ironically, it was exactly six months on the calendar from the day Kevin died. It was a tough day and I went to the session knowing I was tottering on the edge of composure. I had worried about the participants that would be joining me in the sessions, especially that there could be a large age gap. I wasn’t wrong – I was the youngest widow in the group by a good number of years.
My worry was not that the grief is any less or any more relative to age, it’s just tremendously different. We, Kevin and I, had not made it to the retirement stage, our grandchildren are babies for God’s sake. We had mountains of plans, dreams and goals still to achieve. His death leaves me empty, wondering about all the things that could have been. For those other widows, well, they’d made it to retirement; their grandchildren were old enough to give them great grandchildren. They’d retired together, wintered in warm places together, and started the inevitable retreat into a cozy world that was mellow, slower and gratifying.
Those other widows had spent even more of their lives loving, caring, almost blending into their husbands. Their grief must break their hearts in ways I can’t even imagine. And they can’t imagine mine. Fortunately, that’s not the purpose of the group – to understand each other’s grief. The purpose is to allow us to understand our own individual grief. The course is guided by a DVD series. It provides insights into the experiences of a variety of individuals whose spouses, children or parent have died. It deals with the emotions experienced but not the emotional scale.
It’s daunting to get past the feeling, based entirely on the age factor, that I am out of place in the group. I may be younger, but I remind myself that I am there because of my experience and for no other reason. I have to wonder though, knowing as many people as I do, that are around my age and that have lost spouses, what do they do to get by? I have a healthy circle of friends and my family support is second to none, is that enough for most people? Am I more needy than most? To me, with respect to attending the counselling classes – why not? My only investment in it is my time, which I have plenty of, so why not see what else is out there, and that includes this course.
There are eight sessions, one per week, and attendance is completely voluntary. I can attend or not, there is no obligation, I paid no money, the instructors receive no compensation. The hostess of the session has a small library of books available to borrow and, as last week’s class ended, she suggested a book for me specifically, “I’m Grieving As Fast As I Can” by Linda Feinberg. I’ve started to read the book, it’s under 200 pages in size; however, as is the case with any book on death, some chapters are harder to read than others. I won’t have it finished before this week’s class, which I do plan on attending – if I can glean even one more coping technique or enhance my self-awareness it can only help me.