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Tonight I sat and listened. We enrolled in the program to help our ten year old express and understand his feelings of grief. Randy died on December 27th.  I sought out the program for Michael’s benefit, and for his dad’s. This was the third time we walked through the cold parking lot up to the 8th floor.

We arrive. 

Shortly after we assemble into the flavorless, bare conference room, the kids are divided into groups and go off with their group leaders to share in various activities such as writing poetry, drawing, painting, or creating music to help nurture self-awareness and their expression of emotions.

The kids are called by their group number. We give a quick, encouraging squeeze on the shoulder or a preferred peck on the cheek, and then the little ones shuffle out the door.

Kathy, the group leader, turns her attention to the remaining parents and talks whole group, addressing various strategies for parents  to help their children cope with loss and process their emotions.

Next, the parents are divided. We are in group 3. The, “Trauma,” group.  There are about 20 of us.

We assemble the chairs into a circle, and everyone is facing one another, there is a heaviness felt in the air. It is quiet. Some choose to clear their throats. You can hear feet shifting uncomfortably. Torsos lean back and into the support of chair rails. Knotted hands can be seen, occasionally fidgeting with a scarf, some laying limply in numb surrender upon a lap.  There is a sense of knowing that fills the room. On the rare occasion that eyes meet, a fleeting, sympathetic smile is offered.  We know why we are all here. We are kindred; members of a club none signed up for.  

Tonight I sat and listened, just as I did the past three times. Silent. Listening as wounded warriors of sorrow recounted their stories. I can’t write the details shared by these wounded warriors because they are not mine, they are their stories to tell. Each week they do. Each week I sit and I listen. Maybe next week, I will tell our story.

Until then, I wait.

Now, in the silence of my house, I listen, and still, all I hear is the numbing dull sound of bleeding, broken hearts. 



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8 replies

  1. This is such a moving piece. I can feel the tension in the room. ” In the silence of the house all I can hear is the numbing dull sound of bleeding, broken, hearts”, such a powerful line. So altering to sit an silence and truly listen-rather than avoid.

  2. I don’t know your story, but I will be attending my first support group (the kids will too in April) and I am terrified! I hope to be able to “tell my story” out loud (I have no problem typing it!) with people who have a shared experience. What a wonderful, descriptive piece you have shared. Thank you.

  3. Today is the birthday of my son-in-law who took his life a little more than 2 years ago. I found myself irritable and sad today – it wasn’t until I acknowledged what day it was that I was able to understand what was driving my emotions. I don’t know your story – but I hope that you will find solace in the quiet listening.

  4. You found a way to write about it after all. I still can’t imagine it. This narrative of grief hurts through the comfort anyone might have found in that room. Your telling will come. Or it may not. Either way you’ll find a way.

  5. Brighid. There’s so many things to comment here. For starters, I’m so glad that you’re doing this. It’s a step in a direction. Not just standing still. I feel for you. From a writing standpoint, this is so littered with imagery that conveys. Sad. Awkward. Introverted. The bare and flavorless. The torsos leaned back. The hands. The numbing dull sound of bleeding, broken hearts. This piece hurts.

  6. Brighid, this is beautiful. So much emotion. The bleeding, broken hearts at the end… just really drove home how heartbreaking this situation is.

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