John Muir Health provides Grief Support Services at John Muir Medical Center, Concord and the Behavioral Health Center. We offer support groups and a correspondence program to help you understand and cope with your loss. Our services are offered to our patients, their loved ones, and anyone who desires to grow from the grieving experience.
"I can't thank you enough for walking me through the past year."
"I realized what I was feeling was normal."
"I loved the poems and knowing that someone cared."
Things to Remember if You are in Grief
The death of someone loved is a shattering experience. The following information is designed to help you with the grieving process, an experience that takes time and is unique to each person.
- Experiencing loss affects your head, heart, and spirit. Confusion, fear, explosive emotions, absentmindedness, disorganization, guilt, or relief are just a few of the symptoms you may experience. These are normal and healthy.
- Express grief openly. By sharing feelings of grief with others, healing occurs. Allow yourself to speak from your heart, not just your head.
- Realize that your grief is unique; no two people will grieve in exactly the same way. Don't try to compare your experience with that of other people.
- Know you can survive. You may not think so, but you can.
- Try to put off major decisions for at least a full year.
- Though reaching out to others and accepting support is often difficult, the most important self-care you can provide is to find a support system. Find those who encourage you to be yourself and acknowledge the range of your feelings.
- Be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits. Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you fatigued; your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself.
- Be patient and tolerant with yourself. Find ways to forgive yourself. Accept what is beyond your control and focus your energies on things you can control.
- Allow a search for meaning. This search is often another normal part of the healing process. Some questions have answers; some do not.
- Remember that grief is a process, not an event. Grief takes time.
How to Help a Friend in Grief
Your friend's life is in transition after the death of a loved one. You want to help, but you are not sure how to go about it. These suggestions are intended to help you turn your cares and concerns into positive actions.
- Practice active listening and try not to concentrate on what you might or might not say. Your physical presence and desire to listen without judging are precious healing tools.
- Refrain from comments like, "I know just how you feel." Honor the uniqueness of your friend's loss and expression of emotion.
- Allow your friend to express a full range of feelings instead of trying to take those feelings away. They need to be felt and talked about as part of the healing process.
- Be aware of using cliches. Comments such as "Time heals all wounds" and "At least he's out of his misery" hurt and create more difficulty for your friend.
- Realize and honor the uniqueness of a friend's grief and be patient. Your friend's own life experiences and beliefs will help forge his or her grieving style and road to healing.
- Offer practical help. Washing clothes, preparing food and helping with transportation are a few ways to show you care.
- Maintain contact, not just at the time of the loss, but in the weeks and months after. A visit, a telephone call, writing a note... all of these acts can comfort a friend and ease his or her pain.
- Be open and communicative; share feelings, make clear direct statements, and try to have as few expectations as possible.
- Reach out on the special occasions that are hard for your friend, such as birthdays, holidays, and the anniversary of the death.
- Be sensitive to the profound life changes being experienced by your friend in the aftermath of a loved one's death. His or her life is effectively changed forever.
Support groups are designed to help participants understand, accept and cope with their loss, to do the work of grieving, and to gain important growth from their experience.
The meetings are led by professional facilitators who are familiar with the feelings and experiences of those who are in grief. Participants are invited to attend as many sessions as they wish, from one meeting to several meetings over an extended period of time. The only requirement is that they come with an open mind, an open heart, and a hope that healing might be possible.
Grief Support Groups
Second and Fourth Mondays from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
Walnut Creek Medical Center
1601 Ygnacio Valley Rd.
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
(925) 947- 5281
Pastoral Care Services, Walnut Creek
Spiritual Care Services, Concord
For a complete listing of grief support services in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, contact the Contra Costa Crisis Center at 1 (800) 833-2900 or the Crisis Support Services of Alameda County at (510) 889-1104.