A free support group for Ocracoke residents
By Ruth Fordon
Grief is a tricky process. The literature says we move through grief in stages that are clearly defined. Not so. Emotions are not like that. Every day I find something around the island that leaves me speechless, in denial, tears welling as I feel the pain of someone’s family home being leveled or some other tragedy slowly unfolding. During the same day I might also feel my anger rise up when there is a change to a ferry schedule, or my internet connection is wobbly again. These emotions cycle hourly it seems and it can make me crazy sometimes.
We are all facing the collective aftermath of Dorian, but each of our situations and where we are in the grief is unique to us as we try to process the losses we are enduring. All of these emotions are normal, but the intensity of them can feel overwhelming, especially when we are in for the long haul of daily challenges outside our (used to be) normal reality. It helps to talk about this, to share stories, learn new strategies to cope and to be vulnerable in safe places.
The Ocracoke Strong motto is great, especially embracing courage to fight back. But I have words of caution as well. I was taught that to be strong was the same as not crying when I was hurt, to become tough and stoic, to swallow my feelings and not be a wimp. Is that familiar to anyone? The only way to heal is to feel the emotions and let them flow through. Damming them up inside can cause a riptide of stuff to come pouring out when the dam breaks–when it becomes just too much. Often those closest to us get hit with that debris. Or we can wallow or drown in the overload of feelings we are unable to express, become depressed and unable to function.
My training before I arrived on the island over 30 years ago was in counseling. Over the years I have quietly helped island folks navigate difficult life passages. I love Ocracoke and our community and want to help in any way that I can. One of my specialties was grief work.
I am offering to facilitate a free support group for navigating grief. As long as there is interest in this we can meet as needed. All attending would be asked to keep anything said in the group confidential to those in the group. I have asked Desiree Christa Ricker to join me as co-facilitator, so we have a broad age range in experience and wisdom to offer those in attendance.
We will be gathering Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11 in the front parlor of the Castle B & B on the harbor. The building is empty and ours to use.
It’s OK to just show up. Questions can be directed to Ruth at 252-475-0859