Finding Community in the Midst of Grief
Marge Radle never envisioned this day would come so soon, much less in the middle of a global pandemic. But here she was, March 23, 2020, saying her final goodbye to Bob, her beloved husband of 58 years.
For several years, Bob had battled Alzheimer’s, and when he became seriously ill from complications related to an infection in mid-March of 2020, Marge realized she needed additional support to care for him, so she turned to the Community Healthcare of Texas Hospice House in downtown Fort Worth. It was there that Bob received all the comfort care he needed while Marge experienced a respite from the heavy weight of caregiving. And it was there that Bob and Marge spent their final moments together.
Marge suddenly found herself navigating not only the changes to daily life due to the CoVid-19 pandemic but also learning to live in her new reality of life without Bob. The traditional rituals of funerals, family members coming to town for extended periods, or friends simply stopping by to offer comfort were not an option because of the precautions related to the virus. But, Marge made the best of things with the support of her children and the hope that one day, in the not too distant future, they could all gather together to celebrate Bob’s life. But for now, that would have to wait.
What couldn’t wait was Marge’s grief. It was indifferent to the pandemic and came crashing in like it often does to those who have experienced losing a loved one. Much like she had when Bob faced his illness, Marge realized she needed additional support, and she once again turned to Community Healthcare of Texas. In response to the pandemic, the not-for-profit hospice provider had transitioned their grief support groups to a virtual format. And a month after Bob’s passing, Marge joined her first online grief support group, five weekly meetings designed to provide community, education, and space for her to process her grief. “It was comforting to be with others who were also grieving,” she said. “And because it was online and I was at home, in familiar surroundings, I think it was easier.”
As the pandemic continued throughout 2020, the Community Healthcare of Texas Grief Care Services team recognized that the need for virtual grief support options was growing. So they responded by adding various types of groups to their schedule, from drop-in, less structured meetings to artistic grief expression events. They even transformed their traditional annual Service of Remembrance to a virtual event featuring staff and volunteers honoring the memory of those who had passed away.
Marge has attended many of these events since Bob’s passing almost 18 months ago. And while her grief remains with her, she has learned much during that time. “You don’t get over grief,” she said, “But you do learn to work your way through it.”
Marge’s son shared an observation with his mom, “He pointed out that Community Healthcare of Texas took such good care of Bob, and now they’re also taking care of me.”
The Community Healthcare of Texas Grief Care Services program is available, at no charge, to anyone in the community who enters the journey of healing and transition after the death of a loved one.