How do I know if it’s too soon after my spouse/partner/fiancées death to attend the group?
No one can say with certainty when is the right time to come to a meeting. Sometimes members come shortly after their spouse/partner/fiancée has died while other times they wait longer. Some people who attend shortly after their spouse/partner/fiancées death may decide not to come back until they’re more ready, whilst others continue to come. Whatever you decide is the right choice for you at that time.
Do I need a reservation before I come to the group?
No reservations are needed. It may be an idea to make a telephone call or send an email first so you can be briefed on what to expect. It takes a huge effort to come. Many well meaning friends and family urge us to attend, not realising how difficult it is to get out of one door, to walk through another. It is not unusual to find yourself being ‘busy’, or needing to do the dishes or sweep the floor’. If this happens, just come.
You may sit in your car for a while, circle the block, even go home after a while, or, you will get out the car and walk to the door.
It may be an idea to have a dry run in the car so you know how to get there, or get a family member or friend to take you for the first few times.
Whatever you do is the right thing to do for you at that time.
If I go to a group, will I have to talk?
No one is required to talk at any group. We understand how difficult that can be when our grief is so fresh. We do ask that you listen, however. The facilitator may at times ‘check in’ with you and ask if you wish to share anything. No! is an acceptable answer.
Is there a charge to attend?
We do rely on voluntary donations from members, friends, and the community at large to pay for our expenses, as sadly, we believe, grief and mourning are generally not funded in WA.
A door donation, where possible, helps to pay for the hire of the room. We do have an Annual Insurance Fee of $20 which is non pro-rata. This goes towards our Insurance Policy cover and we seek an annual donation which is a choice.
Do I have to bring anything to the group?
As time moves on you may, at times, decide to bring a plate of food, to share, with our cuppa at the end of the group.
We also invite members to bring a photograph of their beloved to place on the Memorial Table. Some bring the same photograph and others bring a photograph relevant for that day. For example there may have been a wedding anniversary, so you may bring the wedding photograph. It may be that a significant memory has arisen, such as a dress up party, and you may bring that photograph.
Whatever you choose to do or not do is the right decision for you at that time.
Should Have I been living with my partner or fiancée to be able to attend the group?
Groups are open to all that have experienced the death of their spouse/partner/fiancée, at any age from any cause, regardless of how long ago it was and whether they shared the same house or not.
Can I bring a friend with me the first time for support?
Of course, you can bring a friend. They are welcome to walk into the room where the group is held and be with you as you sign in. We ask however, that they leave the room when we ask for people to come and sit in the circle as it is important for us to be able to share freely within our group with other people who understand and know, what it’s like to have a spouse/partner/fiancée die.
In the entrance these is a space for friends and family to read a book. There is also a water fountain and a kitchen. If need be you are able to leave the group and stay with your friend for respite and then come back into the group or wait until we have a cuppa. Also your friend is able to leave and come back two hours later.
Do men attend meetings?
Yes. Men grieve, too, and are welcome to attend the groups for support and understanding.
What happens at the group?
We simply introduce ourselves and share our thoughts and feelings. This is not necessarily easy for the first few times. It takes about six attendances to get used to how the group is run. There may be times, when we may have short program before or after the Sharing and Caring time. The program may include a brief guest speaker, viewing a video tape, or listening to an audio tape or CD.
As a group we are evolving and members are welcome to share their thoughts and ideas for these programes.
Does it matter how my spouse/partner/fiancée died? Will I still be welcome regardless of the type of death?
All spouse/partner/fiancée’s, who attend the group, have experienced the death of their loved one. Regardless of our spouses/partners/fiancées age at death, or cause of death, or how long ago they died, you are welcome.
Religion doesn’t matter to me anymore. Can people at a meeting accept that?
Solace has no religious affiliation. Members are tolerant of any views. After the death our spouse/partner/fiancée, many priorities, as well as values and beliefs may change.
I notice the meeting is in a church. Do I have to belong to a church to attend?
Our groups are held in a wide variety of locations, depending upon what is available in our communities. Sometimes this may mean it is a Church.
I have babysitting problems. Would it be all right to bring my five-year-old with me?
We encourage, wherever possible, for your child to be looked after by a suitable child carer/sitter. Whilst this is preferable, we do understand the difficulties in finding an appropriate carer. Chat to your facilitator.
Any child under 5 may be manageable at times with an appropriate play area being provided. Children however may be exposed to private conversations of which they may unwittingly, in their innocence, share outside the group when they are playing. It is also not unusual for children to ‘play out’ what they have heard. Always speak to you facilitator first.
My spouse/partner/fiancée died sometime ago now, and I postponed my grief work. Now it’s catching up with me. Is it too late to come now?
We all grieve in our own way and in our own time.
Many people don’t feel the need for a support group until years after the death of their beloved spouse/partner/fiancée. It’s all right to come whenever you choose, whether it’s soon after your beloved’s death, months later, or years later.
Whenever you choose to come to a Sharing and Caring group, it will be the right time for you.
How long do people come to the groups?
People attend groups until they no longer feel a need. Some attend just a few groups while others come for years. Some come for a few times and then may come back at ‘special’ times such as significant life events or anniversaries. Others may come back years later.
Some are so thankful for the support they’ve received, that they stay to help in whatever way they can, so they can be there for the next person who walks through the door, makes a telephone call or helps out with administration.
Why is it that Solace recommends that I attend quite a few groups before deciding if it’s for me?
Often, the first group may bring a lot of emotions to the surface and this may make the first group difficult.
The first group may also provide the relief that you are not alone and the validation that you are not different and nor are you going crazy.
Hearing and seeing others share is not easy, yet it is the way that we know that ‘others are similar to me!’
Some say that they bring home the pain of others after listening to their stories. Often it provides a window into our own deep pain.
Attending many groups’ gives you time enough to allow your emotions to even out and to understand that in sharing there is healing. It also provides the opportunity to understand that we are unable to fix or heal another.
By attending many meetings we observe the different dynamics of the group, the many ways that grief is expressed and how people find ways of doing and being. There is even humour …..
After being in the group, for a time, you may not feel ‘different ’ or ‘better’ and may indeed believe you are ‘worse’ than when you came in to the group.
It is not until we see and hear a very new grieving spouse/partner/fiancée that we may recognise, ‘that’s where I was’ or ‘I used to be like that’. This realisation generally does not come with a few attendances at the groups.
It is not unusual if people do pop in again some years down the road if a special event or a milestone has taken place ( a child’s wedding for instance ), or a significant milestone is happening. People then wish to re-connect with another who will understand. This may occur when you come to your first group. Their expression of grief may be alarming and even scary, for you may then wonder, ‘this grief will not change and this horrendous pain will be with me for all my life, what is the point of this group.’
This same thought may come up again when you first attend a group. It is not, unusual to have thoughts, ‘look at them, they have been coming to this group and they are just as bad’, and then wonder if this group is for you.
You have been where you are now, not exactly the same…..yet we have been there….
You have loved deeply and the pain of coming home to an empty house, not having your beloved to share a meal with to chat to in the evening, to share the chores, to wake up each morning and find it is yet another day when they are not with you………..the aloneness and quiet can seem insurmountable. Sadly, grief can take more time than we or society expect.
Those of us who have been where you are now, know that the horrendous pain you have now will ebb and flow and the power of this pain will shift.
If you can believe that every action you take is always a movement forward, even if it ‘feels’ like you are going backwards, and if you can believe that your beloved will not be forgotten, and will always be with you, a smile will creep over your face once again…..and you may even here yourself laugh!
If you are reading this article, you will make it!
We Look Forward to Meeting You and Sharing Some Time With You
We wish to acknowledge “The Compassionate Friend” for the concept and basis of this article