The Nature of Grief

Author: Zaneta Gileno

One of my favorite things to see is a weed sprouting up through the cracks in a sidewalk. The idea that something so seemingly delicate could push through the concrete and find a way to grow is inspiring. And if that weed happens to be a dandelion, it can make my heart soar. The hope and promise in the fluff of a dandelion filled with wishes, that weed growing through the crack, can speak to our grief journey in many ways.

Flower growing out of crack in sidewalk

Nothing compares to the opportunity to gather with others and share our journeys. The dark, the light, the struggles and the breakthroughs all seem to have more meaning when we learn we are not alone. It helps us to see that much of it can have a purpose and all of it can be turned for our good. Although we would give anything to have our loved ones back with us, we can come to realize we not only maintain a continuing bond with our loved one, but also that we are given many new friends, a new family and newfound hope.

One of the ways TAPS provides us an opportunity to gather with others who understand what we are going through is our TAPS Care Groups. From the beginning of our rich history, the TAPS family has taken time, to come together informally all around the nation. One of my most cherished roles at TAPS is to organize, launch and maintain this network of care.

My team in the Community-Based Care program at TAPS works diligently to expand our groups, and it is truly a labor of love for all involved. I imagine our Care Groups are like fluffy dandelions, ready for someone to make a wish…if only for the hope of a new day.

At our gatherings, the TAPS family is able to take a couple of hours out of their month and join with others. Some come when they are new to their loss and others come years beyond. The holidays and special days amount to an especially difficult occasion for many of us, and knowing you can meet with your local TAPS Care Group during those moments can help you take a step forward. Our groups are a space to come together for tears, but also for laughter. To sit in silence or to unload a burden. Our groups are big enough for all of that and everything in between.

As I opened up to the pain of losing my father as a child, I realized how much I was like that weed, stuck in the concrete of life. The situation was just too hard to bear. But in time, and with the support of my peers, I was able to find the cracks in the road that allowed me to grow — up, out and into the world. Others were there, staying with me during the dark times and also showing me to the light. Even though it seemed like I was never going to get out of the darkness, in time I eventually did. And so it is, like nature, when we keep reaching through our grief, toward those open spaces, we can always find a way.

By Zaneta M. Gileno LMSC, CT, Director of Community Based Care