One way I help people coping with the loss of a loved one is to facilitate grief education and support groups. During one meeting, I invite participants to write a letter to their lost loved one. At a future meeting, participants read their letters aloud, or allow others to read the letters for them if it is too difficult.
I am continually amazed by this experience. Time after time I hear expressions of deep love and letting go, requiring tremendous courage. I think of parents who experienced pregnancy and early infant loss and sign the letter “Mom and Dad” — names they claim for the first time. In these names, they are loving and letting go all at once. I think of widows and widowers beginning to accept what is. Group participants tell me this activity is one of the most difficult we undertake, and also one of the most healing.
Our bodies carry wisdom about the importance of letting go. When you hold something tightly, your hands get tired and aren’t open to receive. First is the letting go, and then the letting come, both involve healing.
But letting go doesn’t mean forgetting your loved one. It also doesn’t mean forgetting the love you shared. It means gradually releasing the longing for things to be different than they are, and releasing the things that get in the way of your freedom. It isn’t like a trapeze artist who lets go all at once — this is a gradual process.
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Having a safe place to learn and talk about this letting go can help. Koch Funeral Home offers a monthly gathering, “Monday’s Moments,” on the first Monday of each month noon to 1:30 p.m.
You are invited to join us for a complimentary luncheon. Our March 6 theme is “Death Class: Why Don’t We Talk About It?” When we’re grieving, we find others may not want to talk about our loved one’s death. But when we do talk, it helps us to live our lives more fully now by attending to what matters most. At this gathering, we’ll talk about death and letting go, including letting go of guilt and unforgiveness.
And our April 3 theme is “Grief Education and Support Group Introduction,” an opportunity to talk about grief support groups — what they offer and what programs are available in our community. Please RSVP for both luncheons, space is limited.
Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director and celebrant. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.