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Going through Grief

“Grief is NOT a disorder, a disease or sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.  The only cure for grief is to grieve.” ~ Earl Grollman

On October 1, 2005, Haljean Gillispie was alone for the first time in 65 years. “My husband, Martin, and I were married almost 44 years when he passed away after a short battle with lung cancer,” said Haljean.

Martin and Haljean Gillispie
Martin and Haljean Gillispie

It would be the start of a very emotional and stressful stretch of time for Haljean.  From May 2005 through June 2006 besides Martin’s passing, Haljean would retire from her job, sell her house in Texas, move to Duncan, struggle with an illness for two months, be by her mom’s side when she passed away and mourn the loss of her half-sister from brain cancer.

“Martin and I were going to sell our house and move into a retirement facility,” recalled Haljean. “I would never have thought a year later how our plans would have changed.” Since moving to Duncan, Haljean has become involved in the community volunteering with Duncan Little Theater, Gideon Ministry, ASCOG, The Prairie House, and Duncan Regional Hospital Auxiliary.

It was after a conversation with a friend who recently lost her husband, that Haljean realized she never had the opportunity to really grieve her losses. “So many things happened in such a short time that I didn’t take the time to grieve,” said Haljean.

Haljean decided to attend a session of the Going Through Grief Care Group, a service of Chisholm Trail Hospice.  “My plan was to attend but not say anything,” shared Haljean. “I just wanted to see how others were handling their losses.” Facilitator Susan Gassaway, RN, MS, helps people to realize their grief is very unique and individual.  “They learn they are not the only ones going through this and it is comforting to find others having the same hard time,” said Susan.

Haljean greatly benefited from this experience. “Even though it has been 10 years, I learned that I had not completely grieved,” shared Haljean. “It doesn’t matter how short or long of time it has been, if you feel there is something missing and you haven’t completely grieved, attending a grief support group is wonderful.”

Haljean believes so much in the Going Through Grief Care Group that she will be assisting Susan with sessions.  “You can never have your old normal back but you can start a new normal,” said Haljean.      

Two of Haljean’s favorite coping mechanisms that can help you through Grief Bursts (a time when a smell, sight, sound or situation brings a huge, instant wave of grief):

• 15 minute Rule – when you are having a tough time getting things done or a task is overwhelming – you contract with yourself to do 15 minutes of the task. Set a timer and after 15 minutes congratulate yourself for getting that done.

• 3:00 a.m.  Friend – this is someone that you can call anytime you need to talk – your Support Friend.

by Cyndi Crook