Human beings aren’t meant to do everything in isolation. Grief, watching a child self destruct from mental illness/addiction makes us feel helpless. Why go it alone where there are so many others suffering? There is no badge of honor by toughing it out by yourself. Support is a step you take to help you heal. And your presence helps others, too.
The fourth coping strategy is “Find a support system”
What does that mean?
Support systems come in a lot of packages, an apropos description given the time of year. Your friends and family have empathy for you but you also need to find support for your loss from someone or a group that understands that kind of loss.
Find a support group. If you have lost a child, look for that kind of group. There are overdose loss support groups, suicide loss support groups, loss of a spouse or parent support groups, families of the addicted support groups and so on. If you suffer mental illness/addiction, there are support groups for that, too. Divorces are grief from loss of what you thought your life would be so look for that kind of group. I have a bunch for listed on my resource pages.
Find a friend who has suffered a similar loss. Unfortunately, that’s not so hard to find. I reach out and do things with my friends and my new friends who have also suffered loss of a child.
Find a grief counselor. Sometimes this is a professional social worker, sometimes it’s a religious leader. There are even organizations dedicated to serving the needs of those who are grieving.
Get involved. Sometimes support comes with being part of pushing for change. Advocacy on policy groups, mental health, suicide loss nonprofits, addiction nonprofits. Giving back has helped me heal and I’ve seen it do the same for others. Braxton, Jenny, Tammy, Lloyd, Gray, Teri, Kathy, Jill and more all have written comments or articles here and that’s how they’ve found healing. Some of them go to jails to reach out to others, send cards, run support groups, teach classes, have fundraisers. This is support for you and for others.
Karla Helbert who has been helping me with this series runs workshops, weekends away and even yoga sessions for those suffering from grief. Through Full Circle Grief here in Richmond, I often learn of grief groups that focus on art, nature or photography.
If you are struggling to find the strength to even locate a group, ask a friend to help you. How many of them have said, “Let me know if you need anything.” So take them up on it. Post here and we’ll try to help.