“I don’t wear hats.”

“I don’t dance.”

“I don’t talk to strangers.” 

The first statement about was said by a woman at a conference for counselors, a woman who refused to choose and wear a hat for an exercise being done. The second statement is one many of us have heard and some of us have possibly said.

The last statement I find incredibly sad. I am not sure who said it but there is a saying that goes, “Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet.” There is another saying that goes, “I need all the friends I can get.” Never is that more true than when we are going through hardship or our world is falling apart. 

The death of someone we dearly love is one of those world falling apart times. When we are deep in grief we can be very needy. Even if family and friends want to be helpful, they may not always be able to, when we need kindness and support the most. If our address book is small we may run out of friends to call on long before we run out of grief. 

Sometimes grieving people make new connections through support groups or on-line grief sites. Even though each of us is hurting, we are able to reach out to one another. In doing so, we gain feelings of being understood and that the lives of our loved ones continue to matter. That is a precious gift from someone who becomes more than a stranger. 

Deb Kosmer © 2011

Deb Kosmer

Deb Kosmer

Deb has worked at Affinity Visiting Nurses Hospice for ten years, the first two as a hospice social worker and the last eight as Bereavement Support Coordinator supporting families before and after the death of their loved ones. She provides supportive counseling, developed and facilitates a variety of grief support groups, including a well-attended group for men only as well as other educational events. Deb received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-Oshkosh and her Master’s degree in Social Work from UW Milwaukee. She received her certification in Thanatology through ADEC. Her writing has appeared in New Leaf Magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone, Living with Loss, Grief Digest, numerous hospice publications and EAP publications. Some of her poetry on death and dying will be included in a college textbook for social workers in end of life soon. New Leaf has also used some of her poetry for a line of sympathy and anniversary of death cards. On a personal level, Deb's 14-year-old son died after being struck by a car. Her 31-year-old sister had died in a car accident eight months earlier, and her 56-year-old father died from a heart attack exactly three years before. These three unexpected deaths within three years started Deb on a journey she never wanted to be on and she learned first-hand the importance of having the help and support of others. In the years since, she has experienced other losses, the most recent being the unexpected death of her 44-year-old step-daughter who died from complications three months after routine surgery. Deb's passions are writing, reading, education, nature, and family. She is currently working on a book of her grief poetry. She recently moved with her husband to Waypost Camp, Hatley WI. Her husband accepted a job there as Property Manager and his position allows them to live on-site with acres of woods and a lake. She anticipates the quiet beauty to be a strong catalyst for writing.

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