I had the pleasure of seeing Megan Devine, of Refuge in Grief, speak last summer at the World Domination Summit in Portland. It was a pretty powerful talk and for me, incredibly timely, to hear her story and advice only 9 months after my Dad had died. I had been spending a lot (like, a LOT) of time writing and thinking about grief. What it is and how we’re “supposed” to handle it and all the things I was learning after and through my Dad’s death. Hearing her speak about something that I was learning firsthand felt kind of magical and meant to be.
I had just had a heart-to-heart with my Mom a few weeks prior about how she was naturally trying to fix my grief. She was the only person I wanted to call when I was upset or having a dark moment, yet she only tried to make me feel better. I couldn’t find the exact words (for months) as to why I was never actually feeling better when I talked to her. I would even leave those conversations feeling incredibly frustrated or sometimes even a little angry at her.
Yet a day or week later, when overcome with sadness, she’s the person I would call. And it would happen all over again.
I eventually was able to pinpoint that it was because she cared too much. She absolutely hated hearing me be sad. It was, understandably, heartbreaking for her to see her daughter grieve her father. She wanted to fix it. That was natural, and so obviously coming from a place of love.
But once I was able to figure this out and ask her to just let me talk and cry, and to not tell me all the reasons why I shouldn’t be sad (ie “He’s not in pain anymore” or “At least we have so many great memories with him.” or “But you know how much he loved you.” etc.) Maybe she could chime in about her own grief, but definitely not tell me why my sadness shouldn’t be.
Then, a few weeks later after this life-changing conversation, I sat in the audience at one of my favorite events of the year and heard Megan Devine put this all into words better than I ever could.
It had a lot of people talking that weekend, and unknowingly, it was one little moment in time that would help propel me toward helping people have these types of conversations via my Connection Catalyst workshops.
If you know anything about me, you know how much writing and journaling is a part of my life – and that I’m a huge advocate for everyone else to incorporate writing into their lives. So, it only made sense that a writing course on grief would be a fantastic avenue for me to explore my feelings, thoughts, fears, and emotions in a safe space.
I signed up, excited to see where this would take me… to see how it would help me.
My experience was tough – but I knew it would be. You don’t take a class like “Writing Your Grief” unless you are prepared to dig really deep and crack some heavy shit open.
However, I took this course about a year after my Dad passed away, and actually embarked on it when I was in a really solid, healthy place. I had recently done some really deep work around my Dad, our relationship, and his death at an intensive weekend retreat. I signed up for a couple of reasons, including the fact that I just wanted to write about him. I didn’t want to “feel better” yet. I didn’t want to forget him. I wanted to be sure I was grieving him “enough.”
And while of course I know now that those aren’t really the healthiest approaches to why I took this course, there really is no wrong or right when it comes to dealing with death. You have to do just whatever the hell feels right.
My experience with the course was this:
With all that being said, I think that for someone that is smack dab in the middle of grieving (no matter the timeline because that is different for everyone) the Facebook group could have been exactly what they needed. A place to know that other people are hurting just like them, and that it’s okay to open up and talk about it, in a safe place where nobody is trying to console you or fix it or tell you it will get easier with time. They are just there to listen and to relate.
Therefore, I highly recommend this course to anyone – no matter whether you’re dealing with a loss that was 15 years ago or it just happened last week. There is no expiration date on grief and having a facilitated space where you are provided direction on topics and questions to explore around your grief, in writing, is something I think everyone can benefit from.