Recently, while lunching with Erna at her table, she mentioned her son suggested she try the grief support group hosted by a local church. “The meetings are very helpful,” she said. “And there’s room for a few more in the group if you think you might be interested. The material is Bible-based.”

Her kind gesture soothed the fresh wound of the third loss within my immediate family, now, the sum of my two surviving daughters and me.

Twenty-eight years ago, when our firstborn daughter and her unborn child perished, my husband and I didn’t consider attending a grief support group. He returned to work making sales calls to his customers. I resumed my newborn journal writing workshops throughout Metro Detroit, hosted by Borders bookstores, libraries, and public-school community education programs.

Once her classes resumed, our middle daughter returned to Alma College as a senior. Our youngest daughter was enrolled at Oakland University where we both simultaneously earned our Bachelor of Arts degree.

Meanwhile, my husband, daughters, and I staggered through our obligations, passing one another like deer looking into headlights. On occasion, when we could no longer function, we attempted private counseling without enough success to recompense the stress of the financial cost.

Yet, God’s hand rested upon our vow to one another and our family. Mel and I celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary January 24 while he was hospitalized. He left us January 30 under Hospice care in our home, my ear to his heart: a heart we did not know was defected from birth until its diseased chamber could no longer pump blood.

This is the story I told to my first Grief Share class last Thursday night amongst a group of eleven people ranging in age from the forties to eighties. Others told their story of divorce and betrayal.

“Now let’s share one good or funny thing we remember about our lost loved-one,” the group’s leader said.

Immediately, an incident at the dinner table with my young family came to mind. I sat mid-way of the group and listened to their “good or funny thing”, uplifted with each story. What wisdom to remember the laughter with our loved ones, I thought.

The leader nodded to me. “Would you like to share something?”

“Yes. Our family was young, gathered around the dinner table in the little kitchen nook of our Detroit home on Algonac Street. I’d just heard about the new Renaissance Festival in Clarkston and proposed to my husband that we take our girls. He, being a bit tight with his income, said, “Why would I want to do that?”

“Because it’s a fun, learning experience,” I replied.

“You mean an expensive experience,” he said.

“Spontaneously, I scooped my homemade potato salad on my fork and aimed at his eyes. The potato, onion, hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and sour cream mixture landed on my husband’s left eye. We all erupted in laughter, with the exception of the man of the house who managed a grin, acknowledging his grumpy attitude.”

“So, did your husband take your family to the Renaissance festival?” asked the group leader.

“Yes.”

I left the support group with Erna knowing I’d found my kin.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com