Volunteer Testifies to the Power of Peers

By Gordon Bullard, Guest Contributor 

Whether you are just starting on the rocky, painful road of your grief journey or have been traveling it for years, and you have never considered attending a peer grief support group, I hope you will reconsider. I was once a non-believer and didn’t think that anything could help, especially a group of strangers. No, I would just tough it out, and in time, the pain of heartbreak and emptiness would surely pass. But it didn’t. 

I was repeatedly nudged into going to a peer support group and finally gave in. I’m now thankful that I did. A peer support group is simply just that. People who have had a similar experience to you and have shared and can validate all those feelings you’ve had; the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the despair, the guilt, the anger, the fog, and of course, the deep, unrelenting sadness. As I listened to others talk about their experiences, it was as if they were speaking in my voice. At some point, when I mustered the nerve talk of my own experiences and emotions, gentle nods of recognition assured me that I was not alone. Hearing others’ experiences helped me understand my situation, try new things, and understand that there is a path “through” grief. That is the power of peer support. 

There is no cure for grief. It’s an experience you will carry with you for the rest of your life. It leaves a deep scar inside you that can still rise from time to time and make you wince and tear in pain. Grief is a journey that we all must take at some point in our lives, but we don’t have to walk the road alone. We all are part of the human condition and need other people to connect to and support to heal. At a time in your life when you feel you are at your lowest, your peers understand what you are going through and will willingly be there just to listen. This is also the power of peer support

Although the paths may be similar, everyone’s grief journey is different. In time, you’ll feel yourself coming out the other side and beginning to live again. One day you may even find yourself listening to someone who is lost and in pain talk of their recent loss while you silently nod your recognition of understanding their pain and helping them to heal. That is the power of peer support.

So if you haven’t considered going to a peer support group, it might be time. SADOD has a support group directory with many meetings around the state almost every day of the week. Since COVID, all of these meetings have transitioned to virtual meetings, so it doesn’t matter where you are; you can attend. People are there and willing to listen, ready to help, prepared to share their experiences. That is the power of peer support.

Gordon Bullard volunteers as a peer grief support group facilitator for Learning to Cope With Grief, along with his wife, Colleen.

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