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Adult Grief Program for Small Groups - Introduction

The GriefSpeak team

is very pleased to offer our

Adult Grief Program for Small Groups

It’s our gift to you with our best wishes!

Over the past many years, our grief programs have been utilized in every demographic imaginable and have blessed the lives of thousands of people. Whereas this program is for adults, we will be following up with the program for teen girls and another for teen boys.

Following the posting of these programs, we will be offering you our Personal Mythology programs. It is our constant goal to provide you with excellent resources for working with grief. In our many years of working in the grief arena, we have never witnessed a greater tool for the awakening of a healing process than these grief programs.

As you may know, the effects of grief and loss are often overlooked or misunderstood. When we see depression, behavior problems, addictions and violent tendencies, we are often witnessing the manifestations of buried grief and loss. Especially in these changing times, many folks are witnessing and experiencing grief in ways that have never been known before. Unresolved reactions to death, disease, divorce and challenging life transitions are painful, disturbing, and frightful in many instances. We really need grief relief!

Our grief programs uncover the timeline of loss and support teens and adults through a journey of transformation and empowerment. They guide them to redefine themselves with a sense of balance, self-awareness and strength. Participants weave shattered dreams and broken hearts with wholeness and well-being to create their own path to freedom and joy.

In a peer support setting, our grief programs facilitate healing by creating a safe place of connection which affirms the inherent value of each individual. Every person is recognized as whole, unbroken and without the need for fixing, saving or correcting. Within each grief group, these programs enable people to tend to their grief by tending to one another.

If this has sparked an interest in you, then you’re probably asking, “How does it work?” So, let’s begin right there! Let’s talk about the Adult Grief Program:

Ideally, you will bring 3-6 adults together in a “closed” group. This means that people don’t come and go from a group; each individual is committed to the 8-week program, and no “newbies” can be included once the group begins. These participants might be friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, members of a church or other community group. Groups can be mixed with men and women, or it might be a single gender group – these are very powerful, I might add.

We have only one caution in forming your group: we generally don’t encourage couples to be in the same group; having said that, however, we have seen some powerful couples do this work together. It can be a very bonding and strengthening experience for couples. It really depends on the people, but because this program invites deep sharing, some people might be fearful as to how his sharing would affect his partner. We want everyone to feel safe in their vulnerability.

Each group member agrees upon confidentiality within the group. This provides a sense of intimacy and deep sharing that is honored and respected. What is said and what happens in the group stays in the group.

No materials are required for group members, but it’s great to keep a dedicated grief journal or notebook. Most importantly, a member of the group is required to engage as a facilitator in order to hold the group together and make sure that things run smoothly and in a timely manner. The facilitator is really a critical person, and the success of the group will depend on the person who is willing and able to step up to do the job. Another possibility is to have two people who are willing to co-facilitate the group. This would be perfect.

Groups should be held in a private and quiet space, phones turned off and chairs set up in a cozy, intimate circle. The setting is important in creating the appropriate energy of safety, sacredness, confidentiality, and loving support. Each gathering would ideally run for 2 hours, with a short break at the first hour. Simple refreshments work beautifully, too. We want to provide a comfortable, friendly and safe environment.

We suggest that no money be exchanged, as this is a communal offering. Participants can take turns providing the space and/or the refreshments. In the spirit of GriefSpeak, we gather in the name of service to our community in charity and love.

Our entire curriculum was designed to reflect the map of the Hero’s Journey. From the works of beloved Joseph Campbell, the hero’s journey is a motif for human challenges and growth. It is also a motif for the journey through and beyond grief. We adopted Campbell’s journey long ago, and refreshed it along the way. It has stood the test of time and still works beautifully. Each participant should have a copy of the map.

The Hero's Journey

Each lesson has a “lesson-at-a-glance” on the first page, which gives the facilitator a quick and easy overview of the scope and sequence of the lesson. It’s a no-brainer! It’s been developed to guide you through each lesson without you having to actually create anything. It’s all there! Having said that, however, you can tweak the lesson, add your own creative touch, and make it your own.

The only element that really must remain is the “invitation” to the experiential project in each lesson. This is the uniqueness of our programs and truly is the heart of the healing process. Each invitation is holistic in nature and invites the sacred into the healing process. Each participant is invited to “do” something with their grief during the week between lessons. These invitations are then shared with the group in the next gathering. It’s really so beautiful! You will love this part of the process, and so will the participants. This is deep and powerful work, and every single soul will be marked with an indelible joy and memory of his/her creation and what was learned, seen, healed and understood in the doing.

Each lesson will follow the same formula:

  1. Our location on the Hero’s Journey Map

  2. Our process for this lesson

  3. Guiding Words for this lesson

  4. Guiding Questions for this lesson

  5. Guiding Quotation for this lesson

  6. Invitation to the project

  7. Meditation and/or Closing Quotation (depending on time)

*** Try to begin and end on time; folks will appreciate this.

*** Once gathered and seated, we initiate the sacred work by lighting a candle, and/or ringing a bell, offering a warm welcome to all. This invites participants to prepare themselves for the healing work.

*** Each gathering begins and ends with a “check-in” and “check-out” by each participant in the group. Essentially, this is a brief - usually only a minute or two - comment on “the state of my heart” in this moment. It’s almost like an invocation and benediction that book-end the meeting. We always use the talking stick during this time for each person to be seen and heard without interruption, comment or question. When each person is complete with a brief “check-in” at the beginning and ending of the lesson, it moves to the left of the circle – following the heart to the next person in the circle. (The talking stick can be any object: a flower, a feather, a pinecone.)

*** Our grief program requires significant time, effort and space for contemplation and creation. Don’t find yourself over-committed or over-extended

*** If addiction is an issue, 6 months of sobriety is recommended to insure your well-being. This is deep and powerful work and could trigger a relapse.

*** As a participant, it’s very important that you be a silent witness to others and their grief. We don’t give advice, and we don’t take on their pain. We allow them their healing journey while holding them in love and compassion, trusting that they will find their way Home.

*** Finally, the highest priority is the safety and well-being of the group as a whole. Commitment from each member to show up on time, actively engage, and be fully present is very important. Each person is contributing to the overall quality and impact of the work and brings a unique story and gift to the group.

Grief is a heavy topic; no argument there! The great surprise inherent in the group experience is that you will experience great joy! Laughter, tears, deep friendships and fun are the ingredients that make grief a memorable, delightful and powerful experience. Just do it! See for yourself that your own simple but precious willingness to do something for yourself and those you love and care about is a mighty thing.

Indeed, “a loving heart is a hospice to the world.”

~ Catherine de Hueck Doherty

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