Support systems

Support: verb, to bear all or part of the weight, to hold up. 

Grief begs for us to isolate ourselves, we experience such deep sorrow and longing after losing someone we care about so deeply. We can try to fill the space they consumed with unhealthy habits. Some days, it may feel like we will do anything for a little relief from the sadness. If we can lean into a safe and supportive group of people that want to love and nurture us, we can feel a lot less alone. 

One of the most complicated pieces of this journey will be the shift you see in your relationships. 

Grief is dark and scary for those who fear complicated emotions and vulnerability. When your loss is fresh there is so much hurt and anguish to sift through. There is a deep longing for the way things used to be, this powerlessness makes the whole experience traumatic for us. We assume that the people that have been in our lives for a great length of time will sit with us in this heaviness. 

We want community and it seems that in the beginning, there are visitors, food and you feel surrounded by love. With each passing day your friends and family will get back to their lives, back to the normalcy that still exists for them. You still crave that support, even if it’s just someone sitting with you. There seems to be a shift in those that can tolerate your dark days in grief. Every relationship in your life will change with this grief, we encourage you to be open and accepting as you watch them change.

If someone displays the ability to support you, thank them and let them know what it means to you. Find safe people to talk about your loved one. Remember that it is okay to want to talk about them, to want to talk to them still. They will always be a part of you and we encourage you to maintain a healthy connection to them. We want you to remember to treasure your love story with them and share in safe places so that you don’t feel pressure to grieve in any way but the one that feels best for you. 

How do we being to receive support from others when we are used to being the giver?

To begin, we want to educate you on the different types of support, in hopes you can become more self-aware in the type of support you need when you are struggling.

When we experience secondary losses, losing a friend or a part of our support system after the death of a loved one it can break our heart even more. The key to creating a strong support system is finding safe people that can sit with you in your sadness.

Almost every relationship that you have will change over the course of the next year. Depending on where you are on this journey, you may have already noticed those changes. This presents the question: Whom do we trust when every relationship around us is changing?

Look for the helpers…

Spend time investing in the people who are willing to be witnesses to your pain.

Pay attention to how your soul feels after a conversation with someone in your support system, that can help you decide.

How do you pick and choose who you trust on your toughest days?

There is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture, we were isolated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and now we are even more fearful of each other. We are created for connection, if you look back throughout history we lived in “tribes” or communities where everything was shared among the households. Fast forward to life today and we have smaller tables and higher fences to give us the illusion we are “safe.” It can be scary to reach out and ask for help, our culture struggles with connection but it is possible to have that connection with people who have been through a similar situation.

If you are ready to begin to open up to a support system but aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas:

Consider joining a workout group, it does not have to be an intense workout. It can just be something that will get you out of the house and help create healthy habits. For example: yoga, walking group, or water aerobics.

Review your current social circles and family relationships, then single out the people who offer the most positive but truthful advice.

Be open to the idea of asking for help when you need it and accepting that help as graciously as possible.

Try new activities alone or in groups to introduce you to fresh faces who may provide a positive influence.

Venting and spending time with people who support you can help reduce anxiety and increase your mood. It can also enhance your healthy coping skills.

We hope that you can open your heart a little bit to receiving support, although you may really want to isolate right now support can help you muddle through the darkness of grief.

We always have our support groups and would love to see you.

Don’t forget about our Facebook support group!

-The Retreat Bereavement Team

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