Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finding healing support and hugs on Facebook

The ocean's mellowing effect

I recently joined a couple of groups on Facebook. One is called Grieving Mothers (there is a Grieving Fathers as well, started by the spouse of the woman who started the mother’s group), and Loss of an Adult or Young Adult Child. After joining both groups, my first question was: where were these groups when I needed them in September 1999? People post on them all day and night to share a story about their child who died, tell about the terrible time they are having just doing their daily lives, and ask questions – about how others are coping or what medications help them or how do they keep the memory of their children alive. They console each other, they give hugs (((((hugs)))), or they just rant.

They also use the word angel for their lost child and call a new child conceived after the death of a child, a rainbow baby (the rainbow after the storm concept). I love that term and I only wish I had been young enough to have one after Paul died.

Of course in 1999 there wasn’t even a Facebook. I had a cell phone that I hardly used and an email address in those days and that was the extent of my social networking through electronic media. Plus I didn’t take advantage of self-help books, therapy, or support workshops – except for an eight-week group at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, called Survivors After Suicide. I found SAS very depressing.

Would I have used and found solace in the Facebook groups going on today? I really can’t say. Writing was my way of taking care of myself. I didn’t reach out a lot or talk to people about what was going on with me. I also filled up my life with diversions: working, writing, working out were my top three. I also went to the theater, the opera, and the movies; I read one book after another, and we travelled, and had dinners out with friends. I learned very well how to playact, meant to fool others as well as myself into believing that I could move on and begin to live my life again. Turns out that that playacting became a reality. I did move on to have a productive life after Paul’s death; however, I still grieve for him and continually find ways to keep his memory alive.

So I log on to these Facebook groups and marvel that the people there have bonded. They have found virtual support and consolation and love and friendship from people they probably will never meet in person. Some of them aren’t even Facebook friends. That is such a wonderful thing.

And I’m in there with them. It’s never too late to find people to love and care for.

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