The Journey through Grief

The Journey through Grief

My world changed in 2004, when I lost my dad to melanoma. Even though his death was not sudden, I was unprepared for the grief I experienced. I was fortunate to have a strong support system of family and friends, but I often felt alone in dealing with the overwhelming sadness and confusion caused by this loss.

My mother patiently listened and reminded me that grief counseling sessions could help. It was a panic attack that finally led me to take her suggestion seriously. Working through my emotions alongside a trained professional was the best decision I made in learning to navigate my new world.

Life changed again in 2007 when I lost my grandfather, and in 2008 when I lost my young friend, 14-year-old Sam Lapidus. Upon losing Sam, I gained a deeper appreciation for the saying, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift and that’s why we call it ‘the present’ ”.

My dad, my grandfather and Sam didn’t get to see how my world expanded when I married the love of my life, brought my four children into the world and earned my Master’s degree in Social Work, but with each new development, I’ve learned that my frequent thoughts of them are an opportunity to embrace and remember them in the present. What I experienced as painful and lonely grief in the early years after these losses is now a gift.  I enjoy pausing during my busy days to link my memories of these loved ones with my life in the present. 

If I’m with someone I feel comfortable with, I enjoy bringing my thoughts of a lost loved one into our time together. I’ve found it is more meaningful for me to normalize my grief aloud than to experience it alone. Speaking of my deceased loved ones does not feel like a weakness, and it is typically not painful; rather, it feels like a sign of strength when I express gratitude for the growth I have experienced and remember everyone who influenced the person I am today.

This spring, I co-coordinated a ‘Spousal Loss Grief Support Group’ sponsored by CJFS in partnership with Community Grief Support. Having personally benefitted from grief support services, I was honored to have the opportunity to be a part of this group. It also did not surprise me when many members of this group expressed interest in making themselves available to others experiencing grief.

CJFS and Community Grief Support will be offering another ‘Grief Support Group’ this fall. The group will meet from 1-2:30 pm on Wednesdays, September 6 – November 8.  All sessions will be held at the Levite Jewish Community Center. If you or someone you know is interested, please reach out to me at  caleigh@cjfsbham.org.

CJFJ provides individual and group counseling for all ages, as well as periodic support groups for those experiencing serious illness, bereavement and challenging life transitions. CJFS services are confidential and may be covered by insurance.  To learn more, visit https://cjfsbhamorg/our-mission/ , email jfs@cjfsbham.org or call 205.879-3438.