Someone shared her experience with me this week, and it broke my heart, shocked, and angered me all at the same time. This person ‘diligently searched’ (her words) for help with grief, and was turned away from grief-support groups by several organizations. Her situation didn’t fit their specific criteria. They didn’t offer her other alternatives or assistance. She needed help, but finally gave up trying to find a group. Private counseling was not an alternative for her.
I understand that certain groups are formed especially to deal with particular kinds of losses. And every group is not a fit for every person. But are exceptions ever made when the group doesn’t fit a person’s exact loss and the person needs help? When the rules are so narrow that someone is barred from joining a group because the time frame of their loss doesn’t exactly fit the group’s guidelines seems especially harsh to me. The lady who shared her story with me wanted and needed help! So what if her loss wasn’t recent enough or didn’t fall within the exact time period the group required? Why would anyone turn away someone who is looking to them for help because of a reason like this?
Anyone who has been through overwhelming loss recognizes the courage it takes to join a group or to ask for help. Seeking help is a huge step. And it’s not a step any of us takes lightly. How discouraging to be turned away.
Grief doesn’t fit into a nice tidy little generic box. Some people are ready to deal with the loss in their lives more quickly than others. Sometimes folks take longer to reach that point – but I still pray that they finally get there because the quality of their lives depends on it. Every person and each situation is different. Yet it really disturbs me when someone who is genuinely looking for help is turned away.
What’s the answer? What is your experience?
I’d really appreciate hearing your thoughts.
© 2014 Judy Brizendine
List of grief-support groups in Orange County, CA (via Fairhaven Memorial Grief Blog)
Online resources for coping with grief (via mastersincounseling.org)