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Old 11-14-2009, 06:03 PM   #1
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Default Religion Based Support Groups

I was enjoying the responses to Mergirl's post about religious support groups and if you have to be religious to benefit from them. As you all know I lost my husband 6 weeks ago and have been attending a grief counseling support group. It is religion based and I am not very religious. It does seem to help being with other people and sharing their experiences.

I'd like to know how any of you that have been to one of these have been helped. Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous. I guess we have to leave out OA due to the weight loss issue but I would really be interested in your experiences.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:37 PM   #2
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Amy, thanks for starting this thread. I mentioned before that Al-Anon was a life saver for me, and it truly was. Without going into much detail, I will just say that I was grappling with a family member who was living with my husband & I at the time and actively drinking. Despite the nature of my education/professional experience (in other words, I should have known better) I just couldn't move beyond feeling like it was my job to save him. Al-Anon helped me to understand the futility of believing that I could save or change anyone but myself. Is your support group actually focusing on the 12 steps, Amy?

Another comment re: OE. The group itself is not at all about dieting. The focus is on finding recovery tools for a very real and very serious disorder.

RE: The 'religious' aspect of 12-step programs ... none focus specifically on any particular religion or belief. All encourage a spiritual 'surrender' to a higher power, but this is really about acknowledging your own powerlessness and disordered thinking and not at all about God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, etc. I defined my higher power as the power and the wisdom within my group. It worked for me.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:45 PM   #3
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yeah. If anyone thought i was in any way talking about diets. I was not. I was talking about support for addiction/psychological problems. Not weight loss or diets.
Well my friend does not want to lose weight or diet, as her main objective, but she would like to feel in control of her eating (She also has a painkiller addiction but for some reason she doesnt feel so out of control with this).
As i can't talk about my friend's eating disorder, i shall just say..i hope that those of you who are in a group that was initially religious or has a religious basis, i hope you find benifit from it.
I hope my friend finds support too. You would think on a bbw board there would be at least someone who had gone through the same experiences and might be able to offer help... yet again, fat women must look elsewhere...
How sad and truthless.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TraciJo67 View Post
Amy, thanks for starting this thread. I mentioned before that Al-Anon was a life saver for me, and it truly was. Without going into much detail, I will just say that I was grappling with a family member who was living with my husband & I at the time and actively drinking. Despite the nature of my education/professional experience (in other words, I should have known better) I just couldn't move beyond feeling like it was my job to save him. Al-Anon helped me to understand the futility of believing that I could save or change anyone but myself. Is your support group actually focusing on the 12 steps, Amy?

Another comment re: OE. The group itself is not at all about dieting. The focus is on finding recovery tools for a very real and very serious disorder.

RE: The 'religious' aspect of 12-step programs ... none focus specifically on any particular religion or belief. All encourage a spiritual 'surrender' to a higher power, but this is really about acknowledging your own powerlessness and disordered thinking and not at all about God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha, etc. I defined my higher power as the power and the wisdom within my group. It worked for me.
I'm so glad it worked for you. I think sometimes all people need is the support of others and to know that they are not alone. The religious side can be taken or left.
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Old 11-14-2009, 06:49 PM   #5
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No Traci, it is not 12 Step specific. It is a hospice related group. It kind of leaves me out because of the way my husband died. Everyone in the group actually knew their loved one was passing. Harold had a brain aneurism. I was literally talking to him and then he was dead. It took his body 4 days to die, long, long days. I just wondered if even though I'm not terribly religious, this would be helpful to me.

I'm not doing very well with this, I was just hoping that perhaps someone could offer some hope.
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Old 11-14-2009, 07:11 PM   #6
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Another comment re: OE. The group itself is not at all about dieting. The focus is on finding recovery tools for a very real and very serious disorder.
Thanks for making this point, TraciJo. My ex-wife was involved with OA, and it isn't about dieting: it's about finding a sane, healthy way to live when your life is out of control ... just like its parent organization, AA. I'll admit that a lot of people join in the hope of losing weight, but what they learn, in the long run at least, is a way to be at peace with who they are. As you pointed out, the whole 'higher power' business is not a religious ploy; I think its purpose is to show that you can't control your world or, ultimately, everything about yourself ... and to come to terms with that.
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Old 11-14-2009, 07:34 PM   #7
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My ex-husband is about the least religious, most disdainful person of organized religion I know, and he was able make AA work for him. Five years sober this past August, and going strong. My understanding is that home groups vary pretty widely, so sometimes it takes some searching to find one that has the right kind of vibe for YOU. For him, it took a lot of walking out of very god-oriented groups until he found one that was more vague and open about the "higher power" aspect, using the approach that TraciJo and Dr. F. described.
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:08 PM   #8
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Disregard, moving this.
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Old 11-14-2009, 08:52 PM   #9
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yeah. If anyone thought i was in any way talking about diets. I was not..
yeah, i know. we know. almost all of us, at least.
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Old 11-15-2009, 02:55 PM   #10
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No Traci, it is not 12 Step specific. It is a hospice related group. It kind of leaves me out because of the way my husband died. Everyone in the group actually knew their loved one was passing. Harold had a brain aneurism. I was literally talking to him and then he was dead. It took his body 4 days to die, long, long days. I just wondered if even though I'm not terribly religious, this would be helpful to me.

I'm not doing very well with this, I was just hoping that perhaps someone could offer some hope.
It must be really hard to feel "outside" even in a support group I wonder if there's a better group for you? There are support groups that are specifically aneurysm-focused in Atlanta and Nashville, but I don't know if those are even remotely feasible, and I don't know if there's anything similar in your area. Maybe you could try one designed for a different condition, like a sudden cardiac arrest support group or something? As odd as it sounds, it might also be worth checking out a support group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. My brother committed suicide several years ago, and one of the hardest things to deal with was how sudden it was - everything was fine one day, and then he was gone. There would be a lot of other issues that you might not share, questions related to motivation and anger and stuff, but the shock of it sounds so familiar. *hugs*

If you do want to stick with the hospice group, I can say that the religious aspects of past support groups I've attended - Al-Anon, primarily, but I did attend a religious suicide support group as well - have never been a problem. I'm not religious at all, but I never felt left out or like I was missing out on a crucial part of the experience. I hope it's the same for you *so many hugs*
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Old 11-15-2009, 03:13 PM   #11
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No Traci, it is not 12 Step specific. It is a hospice related group. It kind of leaves me out because of the way my husband died. Everyone in the group actually knew their loved one was passing. Harold had a brain aneurism. I was literally talking to him and then he was dead. It took his body 4 days to die, long, long days. I just wondered if even though I'm not terribly religious, this would be helpful to me.

I'm not doing very well with this, I was just hoping that perhaps someone could offer some hope.
Amy, I can understand why you would feel a bit disconnected within your group, given the sudden nature of your husband's death vs. the other participants having time to process and hopefully, come to some kind of terms with their loved one's impending death. You're probably feeling that you are in one place, and many of the others seem in another. At the same time, I hope that you are getting a sense of comfort just in being able to talk to people who have that same need. People in general are uncomfortable with death, don't know what to say to friends/coworkers/neighbors who have faced a loss, and it has to be at least some relief to be among people whom you don't have to pretend with. People who want to talk, to listen, to try to get through that fog of grief together. I've experienced a sudden loss, and an 'expected' one too, and have known others who have. Until I faced it myself, I did not understand that it doesn't matter if I don't know what to say or how to act. Just being there, sharing a memory, allowing the other person to open up (if he/she wants to) all things that were offered to me, and while they didn't alleviate the suffering, they did bring immense comfort to me. You have a lot to work through, Amy. It's good that you aren't doing it all alone. It may feel like that for a long time (that you are in fact alone). What I have discovered, both from personal and objective experience, is that the suffering comes in waves. Sometimes, you'll feel that you are recovering and that you're going to be OK ... even while you're NOT OK, you can at least see ahead to a better time. Sometimes, it will feel that you'll never get through it. Speaking for myself alone, riding the waves was exhausting ... but looking back, it was also a relief to have some bit of respite here and there, until the next seemingly innocuous thing set it off again. The freshness of the loss. The unexpected nature of my brother's death was one additional layer, but I have to say that even though intellectually I knew that my very ill 83-year-old father was going to die, I didn't *know* it until it happened. It still felt like such a shock; at the same time, though ... I got the chance to say goodbye and to make some kind of peace with him, and I can't minimize how that did lend to a sense of closure that made dealing with the loss ... less intense (not quite sure HOW to describe it). Ultimately, all of us who have faced a loss can relate to some extent. I think that grief is both intensely personal in that nobody experiences it in quite the same way, but we can all empathize with those who are on the journey. I'm so, so sorry that you are, Amy
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Old 11-15-2009, 03:20 PM   #12
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My experiences with both NA and AA varied wildly depending upon what group I was in - whether it was a home group, a church hosted group or a community centered group. None of the groups I experienced were very heavy handed with the spiritual aspect - but the prevalence of god-talk was used more in the church hosted groups and the home hosted groups. Ones held at a community center or local gathering place tended to be more spiritually neutral.

The ability to find a support group that is spiritually neutral may depend a lot on where you live geographically. Up here in the NW especially in the urban areas, they are pretty easy to come by.

Good luck Steely. I hope you continue searching for a group that works for you. The sudden aspect of the death you are dealing with can be very different than people who had some advance warning. The sense of loss is the same but the experience is different - I know that you are searching for people of like mind and experience and I very much hope you find it.
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Old 11-15-2009, 03:41 PM   #13
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Can I just say that it is COMPLETE IGNORANCE to equate OA with dieting. Overeaters Annon is for compulsive eaters....OF ALL TYPES!

I went to meetings here in Reading for a while before I got some eating disorder counselling. There were 3 overweight people out of 15 people at OA. There are bulimic, anorexics, sneak eaters, bingers without the purging. The aim of the organisation is to bring serenity and give us tools to over come serious eating disorders.

In fact, the OA meeting I went to, weight loss talk was NOT ALLOWED. It's about having control over your relationship with food.

Binge eating disorder DOES effect people in this community. And it needs to be talked about.

I read the closed thread and NOT ONCE was weight loss or dieting mentioned.

Ignorance surely does run amuck.
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Old 11-15-2009, 03:53 PM   #14
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Steely,

Very sorry to hear about your loss. I don't know if it's worse for a loved one to die of a long term lingering illness or to go suddenly like your husband. Neither one is much fun.

There is something that could help and in a very short time period. There is a new weekend seminar based on the book Dianetics, which is available in most major cities. For more info, watch the videos here: http://www.dianetics.org/
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Old 11-15-2009, 04:59 PM   #15
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Thank you all for taking time to share your experience with me. I am having a hard time finding words that describe how I feel. I feel closed down so much of the time and you're right Traci, a wave of grief washes over me and I am adrift again. Lost and alone. I am fortunate enough to have a large family and internet friends, also my support group but sometimes I just want him. I want him back.

My group is not an overwhelming religious group, they do have a faith in God. Hold on to your faith, God will get you through type thing. I don't have a whole lot of faith. It requires trust and I don't have much of that either. I will continue on with group because I don't know what else to do. I never dreamed anything like this pain existed. I have never lost anyone before and it is definitely the hardest thing I have come up against in my life.

Again, I really do appreciate everyone's thoughts and feelings. Hearing other people talk about their own experiences gives me hope that one day I might be able to come to terms with my husband's death. I might learn to move past and be alright. I think it's going to be a long, long time.
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Old 11-15-2009, 05:05 PM   #16
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My group is not an overwhelming religious group, they do have a faith in God. Hold on to your faith, God will get you through type thing. I don't have a whole lot of faith. It requires trust and I don't have much of that either. I will continue on with group because I don't know what else to do. I never dreamed anything like this pain existed. I have never lost anyone before and it is definitely the hardest thing I have come up against in my life.
I'm so sorry for your loss. I can't even pretend to comprehend how much pain you are in I can understand you can't trust right now, but I am glad you found a place that you feel safe. That is the most important thing.
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Old 11-16-2009, 01:22 AM   #17
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I'm an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. There were times, in the past, when I felt like no amount of understanding from any other person was enough. I think what was missing was my own understanding that I could cope with this life, the life I have as it is.

But it did help to be among other human beings. Whether they are religious or not--if they're kind... and I have found most 12-Step programs full of people who understand the value of kindness--I think it's just helpful to be around other human beings. Something about the presence of others that just lets us know we're all in the same boat. On a bad day, that can make the difference between getting by and sinking into despair. And hopefully, one day at a time, we're strong enough to outlast the grief and emerge with some kind of understanding of who we are.

That's been my experience, Steely. I'm sharing it in case it helps you or anyone. Good thread. Thanks for starting it.
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Old 11-16-2009, 04:42 AM   #18
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I have never been to any support groups though i can see the value of them. I guess if you go see a psychologist you can still be left with a feeling that its only you in the world that could be feeling what you are. In a group setting, listening to others must make it feel less lonely in a way.
I had disordered eating when i was younger which was certainly compulsive, though i used to cram food into my mouth and spit it out (minging i know)- I was very thin actually.. this turned into compulsive exercising, though i also had very bad OCD in other areas too. I am glad to say that i managed to pretty much get rid of my ocd patterns but it took me many years.
I guess i'm going off track.. sorry.
The reason i wanted to know about the religious aspect of groups for say OE, is because my friend was actually brought up catholic- From what she has said i have a feeing her strict and repressive very religious upbrining may have something to do with her compulsions -through eating and painkillers. She actually tried to kill herself a few months ago and i belive she would have, were it not for the fact that she couldn't find more meds. She is also in an abusive relationship she feels she cant get out of. Anyway, my point is, this was the reason i asked about non religious support groups. I am afraid that because of her upbringing anything too religious based might totally freak her out. I think there is a reason she has totally rejected the religion she was brought up with.
To be honest, i think she needs to find the strength to leave her relationship and maby then she will be able to begin to sort out her other mental problems or maby it has to be the other way about. I Just know how horrific it feels to be so out of control which in a way is strange because its usually also a way of your brain trying to find some control in some way.
Steely, anything that can help you through this period of your life in any small way is a good thing, and i hope you get everything out of the group you are attending that you can.
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Old 11-16-2009, 05:41 AM   #19
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I have never been to any support groups though i can see the value of them. I guess if you go see a psychologist you can still be left with a feeling that its only you in the world that could be feeling what you are. In a group setting, listening to others must make it feel less lonely in a way.
I had disordered eating when i was younger which was certainly compulsive, though i used to cram food into my mouth and spit it out (minging i know)- I was very thin actually.. this turned into compulsive exercising, though i also had very bad OCD in other areas too. I am glad to say that i managed to pretty much get rid of my ocd patterns but it took me many years.
I guess i'm going off track.. sorry.
The reason i wanted to know about the religious aspect of groups for say OE, is because my friend was actually brought up catholic- From what she has said i have a feeing her strict and repressive very religious upbrining may have something to do with her compulsions -through eating and painkillers. She actually tried to kill herself a few months ago and i belive she would have, were it not for the fact that she couldn't find more meds. She is also in an abusive relationship she feels she cant get out of. Anyway, my point is, this was the reason i asked about non religious support groups. I am afraid that because of her upbringing anything too religious based might totally freak her out. I think there is a reason she has totally rejected the religion she was brought up with.
To be honest, i think she needs to find the strength to leave her relationship and maby then she will be able to begin to sort out her other mental problems or maby it has to be the other way about. I Just know how horrific it feels to be so out of control which in a way is strange because its usually also a way of your brain trying to find some control in some way.
Steely, anything that can help you through this period of your life in any small way is a good thing, and i hope you get everything out of the group you are attending that you can.
I'm sorry about your friend, Mer. Why does every moment have to be so hard? It's not just me. Seems like so many people are damaged and unhappy. I guess it's part of life. I hate the way so many people have so much pain.
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Old 11-16-2009, 10:29 AM   #20
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Mer, I seem to remember that you were worried about the religious aspect because your friend is Pagan, and I wanted to address that.

I've never been to an AA, OA, etc. meeting, so take this with a grain of salt. One of my Pagan friends did OA for a bit, but she felt that the "higher power" stuff was too Christian-oriented for her taste, even though there's no one religion specified by the literature.

As someone who is Pagan, I can tell you that you kinda get used to the dominant Christian paradigm, and sometimes you just have to reinterpret it in your own mind to make it work for you. There very well might be a support group that would work for her that is specifically geared towards Pagans, but considering that so few people identify as such, she might have to make due. Most Pagans take an individualized approach to spirituality-- which makes it a lot easier to incorporate various systems and methods that work for you specifically, such as an AA-based program-- but I don't think it's hard to interpret the higher power thing in a Pagan mindset, even if a lot of us have rejected the concept of a monotheistic deity who hands down the rules that we have to live by, lest we suffer eternal punishment.
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Old 12-20-2009, 11:09 PM   #21
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I was going to a local grief support group which just ended. What I got out of it basically was it was okay to feel what I am feeling and others are going thru it and the same thing too. I'm glad I went but I wish it was still going on. It helped me feel better to know there were other out there going thru what I was going thru. I think a religion based on would be good and being Christian I'd love to find one. I just wouldn't want it to be one where they are trying to heal you. I will never heal over losing my dear hubby...
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Old 12-21-2009, 06:42 AM   #22
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I was going to a local grief support group which just ended. What I got out of it basically was it was okay to feel what I am feeling and others are going thru it and the same thing too. I'm glad I went but I wish it was still going on. It helped me feel better to know there were other out there going thru what I was going thru. I think a religion based on would be good and being Christian I'd love to find one. I just wouldn't want it to be one where they are trying to heal you. I will never heal over losing my dear hubby...
We have several different support groups here that are religion based. I would try to find another one in your area if you still feel like you need to go. It turned out it wasn't too religious for me. There was more focus on the grief and how it affected you. I am glad that I went. I generally felt so much worse for my group mates, I don't know that it helped me. I really believe it did.
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Old 12-21-2009, 12:01 PM   #23
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Thanks for the info. My cousins church has one so maybe I can try that sometime. I don't mind the religious aspect being Christian. Hope all goes well for you...
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