So you’re feeling too much pain and isolation and decide to join a grief group. Or you simply work up the courage and jump in. Whew! That is not an easy step. No one wants to join this “club.”

At first, everyone seems to be more or less in the same boat. It appears that everyone is sad and grieving a huge loss. The love of their life has died. It somehow feels comforting, knowing that you’re not alone on this painful journey of feeling lost and suddenly alone.

As the weeks and months go by, friendships are formed in the groups, new connections are made and the “feeling lost” is a little less raw. You can manage a bit better knowing that you can meet others at the weekly group to share feelings and meet socially, creating a stronger sense of connection and some relief from the bitter loneliness of no longer being a couple.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent." - John Donne

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” – John Donne

Then it happens, almost by surprise. Two people begin to connect as a couple. First, it’s just coffee and sharing. Sometimes it turns into a pleasant companion connection. Who knew that it could happen just when you probably thought it never would… or that you couldn’t bear to think that thought. After all, you’re still grieving the loss of your dearest love.

It can happen. It does happen. Others may criticize, judge and not understand.

“Isn’t it too early?” Maybe, and maybe not. Everyone’s relationship to their spouse was different, as is their resilience, wounds, intentions and belief systems. When people connect as a couple within the first two years of grief, it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. It just means that it’s early. It will have an impact on others: children, family, in-laws, friends, group members and even total strangers who hear the story. It’s a journey of redefining a life –a redefinition that needs to be introduced gently and slowly, giving everyone time to settle and process the change. Yes, once again, more change. It just never seems to stop.

In the groups, the members who are not dating will look at the new couple relationship and probably feel opposing feelings. They may feel happiness for their joy… but they look in that “mirror” and also feel pain. It’s a reminder of their loss and that they’re no longer a part of a couple. There is tremendous pain associated with that loss of identity and connection.

It’s important to know that it’s normal to grieve in a grief group. It’s also normal to find life again… whatever that means to you. Some people will never date again while others can’t bear the thought of being alone.Many men date and connect early in their grief journey. (That’s another article!) The task and intention is for everyone to have their own, unique journey without judgment or criticism. It’s important to be sensitive to how we all impact each other. As John Donne said, “No man is an island.” Share your pain and your joy and try to understand that “we’re all still in the same boat together.”

Grief is a messy journey.  Sharing your feelings with others helps us all to heal.

We can get through this much easier … together.