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Part of the conversation regarding online mourning is the creation of community, even if it is virtual.  This post from the Grief Minister blog describes how support groups are there as a means of creating community in the face of loneliness.  The question to pose is whether the same emotions can exist in through virtual support.  It seems from the anecdotal literature in the papers that community is built and connection is made, even if it is not in the person.

Hey, Mourners! You Are Not All Alone!

Posted on January 14, 2012
In the main meeting room of GriefWorks, a children’s grief support ministry in Dallas, Texas.

Another busy night of activities for the family members at GriefWorks was coming to an end.  The parents of the mourning children and teens had just completed their adult group session.  They were waiting anxiously for their children to emerge from their group rooms.  Theresa was especially anxious to see her six year old son Chad after his group tonight.

You need to know that this was Chad’s and Theresa’s first GriefWorks session.  They had come to GriefWorks only the week prior for an evaluation and orientation to the program after the death of Chad’s father and Theresa’s husband of fifteen years.  From his initial entrance into GriefWorks for that orientation until his arrival for his group tonight, Chad had made it known to everyone that he did not need to be here.   He did not like being forced to attend.

Theresa had been firm and loving with Chad throughout all his resistance to participating at GriefWorks.  She had expressed her fears that maybe she was causing her only child further trauma by forcing him into the group.  She had shared with the adult group that after his father’s death, Chad had become angry, unruly and obnoxious at home and at school.  What scared her most she told the group was that Chad refused to talk about his father with her or anyone else.

The door to the young children’s group swung open, and the first child out was Chad.  He looked around for his mother and ran toward her with his arms open to hug her.  She bent down and Chad jumped into her arms smiling and pressing his cheek to hers.  As he smiled, Chad exclaimed, “Guess what, Mom?  I met two boys in my group and their fathers have died too!”

Young Chad had learned something that night that mourners of all ages find out when they attend grief support groups and bereavement activities: “I am not alone!”  For Chad and his worried mother that insight of not being different and no longer being all alone was a turning point in their grief journey.

Mourners of all ages often have the belief that they are different from everyone else.  Their loss is so unique that it makes them one of a kind.  They feel alone in their crisis and that no one can possibly understand or help them.  This condition is called “terminal uniqueness.”  When mourners discover that others have experienced common emotions and experiences in grief, terminal uniqueness fades.   Mourners in the company of fellow mourners can lighten each others’ grief load.

Mourners were never meant to do grief all alone.  Although everyone’s grief is unique to each mourner and shaped by the one of a kind, unique in all the universe relationship they had with their loved one, mourners can and do share some grief emotions and experiences in common.  For the mourner there is a great relief and lightening of the grief load they carry when they know others are also going through this painful, often lonely-feeling process.

From (c) 2011, Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT in “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” Available on http://grief-works.org/book.php. Also available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and your local bookstore. Available now for Nook and Kindle.