By Grace Maselli
The Tampa Bay Timebank took on the subject of grief and loss in its Third Tuesday of the Month member and guest meeting on Tuesday, October 20. Psychotherapy and hospice-trained experts from the TBT leadership team—Nancy Wolf, Christina Bellamy, and Judith Rose—guided about 25 participants in a Zoom meeting to recognize and honor the various faces of grief. The tender examination of loss and its effects included disruption to mourning by Covid-19 and people forced to be separated from loved ones infected or killed by the virus. Grief was discussed in the context of the profoundly unsettling absence through death of someone loved and the painful adaptations necessary before adjustments can be fully integrated.
Giants in the field of grief and loss were invoked: psychiatrist, humanitarian, and hospice pioneer Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her five stages of non-linear grief—Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, and leading death educator and grief counselor, Dr. Alan Wolfelt at The Center for Loss & Life Transition.
Grief can cause a broad range of symptoms both emotional and physical, TBT’s presenters reminded us—from forgetfulness and detachment to everyday life, to fatigue and chest pains.
The discussion, inclusive of a small group Zoom breakout session, extended to the significance of rituals and their power to comfort people in deep emotional pain. Even within the context of Covid, family members, friends, and neighbors can reach out, safely drop food off for grieving families, and be present to another person’s pain with attentive, compassionate listening. Rituals can demonstrate that even in active mourning, we can still be surrounded and cared for by people who remain in our lives. With presenters drawing on Dr. Wolfelt’s work, we understand this can arguably happen (even now using masks and social distancing) through “companioning” with a person who has experienced a loss, being present to another person’s pain—going into the deep wilderness of the soul with another human being—and honoring the spirit, not the intellect.
Grief and its stages, our TBT experts offered, are ultimately a natural and adaptive response to deep loss. The experience is singular and personal and does not follow a prescribed path to reach a given level of adaptation.
The presenters also shared community resources. Following is a partial list of Tampa Bay Area organizations available to assist individuals and families:
- The Life Center of The Suncoast Inc.
6811 N Central Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
- Compassionate Friends
6938 Riverview Dr, Riverview, FL 33578
- Unity North Tampa [First Sunday of the month, 12:30-2:30; donations accepted]
19520 Holly Ln, Lutz, FL 33558
- Soaring Spirits International, Tampa Bay Widowed Persons Group