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Monday, February 7, 2011


I went to my first “young widows” grief group today, and by young widows they mean under age 55. I was by far the youngest widow there and the only one with small children. The other women had teenage or grown children. Some were on their second marriages and had step-children. One lady had been married longer than I've been alive. So I didn’t quite feel like I was in the company of my peers, though I realize a 30 year old widow with toddlers is probably quite rare…except that I know so many from the blogging world. I was just hoping that I might find somebody close to home that I could forge a friendship with.

I was in the middle in terms of how far out I was from my loss. The newest was 4 weeks and the longest was 3 years. So again, not really in the company of my peers. The newer widows are still in the worst, shocking, painful part…while I have processed some of that and am trying to gain my footing with who I have to become now. I am in the growth and rediscovery stage, which the widows who are farther out have already sort of grasped. The positive side of this is that perhaps we will all have some insights to give each other about the different stages.

The other way I felt very different from the group is that I work in the psychology field. I’ve racked up a couple of degrees in psychology. It’s what I do, it’s what I know, it’s how I function. Most of the time when I process things with my best friend (also in the psychology field) it’s like I’m doing therapy on myself. Using the techniques on myself that I would on a client- then my friend gets her turn at me so I feel like I have a built in therapeutic support system.

Honestly, in a therapeutic setting it’s hard to impress me. It's like playing chess with a really good opponent who is always thinking a step ahead of you...I usually know what's coming and what direction it's going to go. It’s hard to counsel the counselor so to speak.

I know all the ins and outs of how therapy is supposed to work. I know the theories and techniques, I know how group therapy dynamics are made and broken, I have the insider’s point of view. It’s kind of like knowing the secret to a magic trick- it loses its luster when you see the trick performed once you know it’s all just sleight of hand.

So today, I felt like I knew what cards the therapist was holding before we even got started. And true to form she followed the script pretty much as I imagined she would. Not to say that it wasn’t helpful information, it just wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. And I had to consciously remind myself to stop my internal dialogue when the other women were talking, to stop diagnosing them in my head and thinking of which way I would handle it if I was the therapist. And those of my psychology friends out there reading this will recognize my stand-by defense mechanisms of rationalization and intellectualizing have reared their ugly heads, and just to keep it interesting I've added a hint of narcissism to the mix. I know I need to get out of my head and deal with some real emotions...that's why I joined the group. So anyway, I didn’t walk away feeling enlightened or any more connected to anyone like I had hoped.

Granted, it was only the first session and the basics had to be gotten out of the way. I’m hoping that the next sessions will push my boundaries and force me to allow the therapy to work, and not let me get away with working the therapy.


  1. i hate that feeling of therapist had told me to give any group at least three tries...

    right after we spoke i actually found a group of women that just meet for dinner every other week in a restaurant that's not crowded- maybe you can start something like this? less therapy stuff to analyze- just sharing. i'm going tomorrow night for the first time- will have to let you know how that goes.

    anyway, i know i'm not close geographically- but i'm always here for you...

  2. You are absolutely amazing!!

  3. That's how my dad felt when he went to group therapy (although you still wouldn't relate since he was 45 at the time and my brother and I were in our 20s). But he was the youngest in the group by about 15-20 years. It just made him feel more alone at first. But he stuck with it, and eventually enjoyed it. Hopefully you are able to do the same or at least find a different group you will look forward to seeing!