by Diane Monks
Entering into the space of a person that is actively dying is entering into sacred space, and the same is true for entering the world of those left behind. As a bereavement social worker, I had the opportunity to bear witness to the devastating grief that often accompanies the death of a loved one—whether it was anticipated after a long illness, or a sudden and unexpected death.
Bereavement groups are commonly offered to family members in this work. I can share that being involved in this work was both profoundly challenging and simultaneously uplifting. In my experience, the support and the shared experience that these groups offer has been profoundly healing, and at times, life affirming as individuals strive to find their “new normal” after the loss of a loved one.
There is something very powerful and uniquely healing about being in a group with others that are going through similar experiences, and oftentimes, speak the words of your own broken heart! Hope is a profoundly important part of this work, and I have been consistently inspired by the courage and the strength of so many men and women that have courageously carried on and worked to find peace and acceptance in their life after the death of a loved one! There is hope and comfort, even in the darkest of times.
“So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.”
Excerpt from the poem We Remember Them – Gates of Prayer, Reform Judaism Prayerbook
Diane Monks has worked as a bereavement social worker in hospice and as an adjunct professor of death and dying at Nassau College. She currently offers grief counseling and workshops at her office in Wantagh and can be reached at 516-826-5859.