One of our early attempts at providing grief support out to the community was to use MeetUp. MeetUp is an online community that intends to gather like minded people together for a common activity. In our case, to create a community gathering where it would be ok to talk about grief. MeetUp seemed like the answer to get people talking about this important subject.
In 2015, Nancy incorporated and registered Being with Grief as a business in North Carolina. We thought that MeetUp would help us get out the message that there was an alternative to traditional therapy. That talking to a couple who had had an unimaginable loss might seem more approachable for people. We felt it would meet a community need and it seemed to us as an obvious niche that we were ready to tackle.
After all we had stumbled after our own grief almost overwhelmed us.
We were not aware of the available resources and were not open to traditional therapy. We had evolved in our thinking and our practice to a place where we could talk through our pain. Our company was Being with grief and we were comfortable in holding everything we had experienced as part of our personal healing.
Making a place for people to feel safe talking about their loss seemed like a no brainer. MeetUp provided a forum for people looking for help. An app that people were getting familiar with that made collaboration and sharing information easy. It seemed like a great match.
What we failed to realize was just how reluctant people are to opening up about grief. It is difficult sharing sadness that can accompany significant loss. This reluctance is tied to many of the things we learned growing up observing our parents and how they grieved. This learned observations condition us with expectations on how we will react to similar situations.
I can’t ever remember seeing my father cry or be sad. As an army sergeant he was always on point and never showed emotion. He had a great sense of humor and a short fuse when it came to tolerating our failures or misbehaviors. He wasn’t raised that way. I learned to keep my emotions in check because of what I observed. I have come to realize that this conditioning must be one of the reasons that clients and people in general find it so difficult to open up with others.
We kept the MeetUp group going for better than 3 years.
We met in convenient places, the library, and several senior living facilities that opened their common rooms for our use. Over that time we served over a dozen people who showed up to the bi-monthly meetings that we held. What was frustrating for us was that the MeetUp app registered over 200 people expressing interest in a grief group. We held our meetings on weekends and maybe that a time when most people wanted to relax from a work week of had chores to do. Self-care and taking care of those chores are important. A healthy psyche and emotional well-being when you are grieving is also too important to overlook. Nancy and I continue to offer help to those who have felt the brokenness of grief. Our approach is to change the conversation around grief and we look forward to those heart to heart talks.
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