Inside a Hospice support group

Published 2:57 pm Monday, June 21, 2010

Its not what you expect.

There are no tears, at least not today, although the participants have experienced enough grief to make anyone cry. Each of them has a heart-wrenching story, but thats not what they are about today, not right away. Its nine oclock in the morning and eight women have gathered at T.J.s as they do every Friday for coffee, and maybe a warm biscuit or an English muffin, and companionship.

You might expect LOLs&bsp; little old ladies. They are not. They are a cross section of the community – young, old, middle-aged – eight women, tied by the common thread of loss. That loss may be a mother, a son, more likely a husband. Some are closer to their personal tragedies than others, some are coping better than others. They treat each other gently and courteously. Nothing they say is judgmental. One thing is clear: each one of them cares for the others, hence the name change. They used to call themselves Moving On. Now they are We Care.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

At the start of the meeting, they are like athletes warming up before the big game, chatting in general terms, welcoming the newcomer. Their number varies. Today several regulars are not present but have explained their absences in advance. One member recommends a book, another tells a funny story about wearing her name tag upside down so she wont forget who she is. There are announcements from Esther Boblit, a volunteer who chairs the group with a light and loving hand.

They have plans. Theres a knitting group the next day, highly recommended, although the guarantee of completing a bolero in one session raises a few skeptical eyebrows. Some are meeting next week to attend a concert together. Several tell of vacationing out of state together later this summer. Current business settled, they take turns sharing their personal news, as is their habit.

Some of it is good. One member has planted flowers and gotten herself a facial. It felt wonderful! she says. One has come upon her husbands diary, composed during his final illness, which has both touched and comforted her. She speaks of perhaps editing it into a book. Another has rediscovered her neighborhood. Her husbands illness lasted five years. During that time she says she pulled into herself, but now she is out walking and gardening and she has been delighted by her neighbors greetings and obvious concern.

There have been down turns as well. A series of little things, one member explains. A sick cat over the holiday weekend, a television out except for one channel. Another says shes gained weight. Food as comfort, she says, shaking her head. Ive got to do something about that. Still another says she has lost weight. She has no appetite for eating alone.

They agree that grieving is an unpredictable process, never easy or smooth. Responsibilities, heightened by loneliness, seem to double. Tending the house and the yard becomes a major issue. Dealing with family members who may or may not understand and offer their help. Managing finances. Focusing.

Knowing that others experience the same kinds of emotional reactions helps. In fact, it may be the most helpful tool available. Esther Boblit knows this. Her friends, gathered around the table, know it too. So does Hospice of the Carolina Foothills, who initiated the group through its Bereavement Services. Its a flexible group, to be taken as needed like a good prescription. Members come and go in accordance with their needs. And, as Esther is quick to point out, this group is not exclusively for Hospice survivors. We Care welcomes any woman who is grieving.

By the end of the hour they sound positive and upbeat. They have gathered strength from one another. Their sharing is a gift to each other and to this community. Join them if and when you need it. Its as simple as a call to HoCF at 828-894-7000. Given the healing bond which has developed between these women, it is apparent that We Care will be around for as long as it is needed.