They may have sat in their cars uncertain and reluctant to enter the building.
They may file into the meeting room filled with apprehension about the strong feelings of sadness they may experience there.
They are participants in an Arbor Hospice grief support group who have lost spouses or partners, children, parents, siblings or other loved ones.
I know from years of experience co-leading these groups that many tears will be shed on that first evening. I also know that many participants will report at our next meeting that the intervening week was a difficult one for them because of the emotions they experienced at that first session.
To better understand what draws participants to these groups given the strong feelings they may evoke, I asked Melissa Schultz, an Arbor Hospice grief support coordinator, what motivates individuals to attend.
She told me that for some participants it is the only place in which they can talk about their losses because the people around them were uncomfortable with the subject or thought that they had grieved enough. Some attend, she said, because they had previously experienced the benefits of social support in dealing with significant life issues.
Participants in these groups have taught me that there is no one right way to grieve, that we each do it in our own way and in our own time.
I have also learned that the vast majority of us who have lost loved ones find our way over time to sustaining memories, a process that is truly at the heart of a grief journey that is for each of us uniquely our own.
This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice Volunteer. You can contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.