by Beth Heironimus
In May of 2011, my sister-in-law died. She was much more to me than a sister-in-law, or even a sister — she was a combination surrogate mother and a best friend.
I’ve experienced losses before. My mother and father are both gone. Friends gave me books about grief. I didn’t want books about grief. I wanted my sister-in-law. Our relationship was complicated, and I was struggling to find my way without her.
A friend suggested a workshop, “Invisible Ink,” that was to be held at Cancer Services. It was free, and so I thought I’d give it a try. It involved writing a series of letters to the person lost. That sounds simple, but it is challenging, enlightening, cathartic, painful and freeing all at the same time. You are guided through the process by a caring and skilled facilitator and each session involves a meditation followed by writing and discussion.
Not only have I found it to be a freeing experience for me, it has been powerful to watch other members of the group come to grips with their own losses. We come to grief from differing perspectives. Losing someone dear is never easy. Some deaths are long and arduous, others sudden and shocking. All are painful.
What a gift this workshop has been to me. I would recommend it to anyone regardless of where they are on their own grief journey. It has helped me not only to grieve, but also to grow.
Invisible Ink will be offered again in the fall. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a notification when dates are available.
by Gail Hamm, program director
Invisible Ink….a catchy and intriguing name. What a name for a bereavement group! Having already completed more than half the lessons, I can say joining this course has been a wonderful experience. It is not for the faint of heart, however. I’ve been working hard on my grief. I write to my daughter. I dig deep to unearth my feelings and put them on paper. My head and heart seek to find meaning in my experience.
Each session starts with a meditation/guided imagery. A topic is introduced and I write in the privacy of my space. If I want to share what I have written, then I do so. Otherwise, what is written remains in my notebook for only me to see. No more than 9 people are ever in the group. This keeps it small and intimate; I feel safe.
Even though I have expressed that the work at times is difficult (who likes to swim around in pain-filled feelings?), I would not want that to dissuade anyone from joining this course. You need to know ahead of time that this is for those who are ready to move on through their grief. The healthiest way to grieve is to acknowledge the loss, feel the feelings, and move through the feelings so you don’t get stuck or stay stuck. Writing is a great way to pull out feelings and give them up or give them over. We don’t forget our loved one. We transform the relationship through the catharsis of writing.
Writing helps both start, and, at times, finish conversations. Writing can help us see what has been hidden because our grief. Writing may help us find a depth to the relationship, which we were not previously aware of. I am finding that since I started my work in Invisible Ink, I am different. I am not sure I have words to explain that difference. I only know that it is so.
Join Kathy Curtis as she starts the next 9 week series of Invisible Ink on March 15, at 6:30PM. You will not regret the experience. Please call your reservation to 260-484-9560. I’d be happy to answer your questions.
From Visiting Nurse & Hospice Home: “Men Facing Grief: The Masculine Ways of Dealing with Loss,” Presented by Jim Miller
Wed April 20, 6-8p, At Lutheran Cancer Resource Ctr
This is part of their bereavement series.
by Dianne May, President & CEO
We’ve all heard by now that Elizabeth Edwards has died. She made it clear to friends and family that she didn’t want it said that “she lost her battle with cancer.” In her words, the battle is about living a good life and she won.
As overwhelming and all-consuming as a cancer diagnosis can be, most people come to the conclusion that they don’t want to be defined by their cancer experience. That’s true of many of the difficult challenges that life brings.
Elizabeth lost her first child in an auto accident when he was a teenager. I heard her in an interview once talking about grief and loss. She was firm in her belief that friends and family should never shy away from talking about someone who has died. Rather she believed that such conversations were not so much a reminder that the loved one had died but rather a reminder that the individual had lived and such memories brought joy.
By all accounts, Elizabeth was a strong and nurturing soul, a force to be reckoned with, and a woman who won her battle by living a good life.