For the past 11 years I have held meetings in my house for grandparents who find themselves estranged/alienated from their grandchildren.
The first meeting I had I have to admit of feeling very nervous, I had no idea if anyone would come or what I was going to do at the meeting.
I need not have worried!
The grandparents that arrived on my doorstep were as nervous as I was, not knowing what to expect.
So, that began this extraordinary journey of mine, trying to make a positive out of a negative.
I just explained why I wanted to set up a support group, talked about my own situation ect.
The rest as they say is history.
Some of those original grandparents are still coming to our meetings, and have become very dear friends.
I remember someone saying after my first meeting,
You were taking a risk, having complete strangers coming to your house.
To be honest it never even crossed my mind.
Sometimes we have to take a risk, had I not done so, BGSG would not be where it is now.
I still get a few butterflies, even after all this time, when it is nearly 2pm on a meeting day. New people come and I wonder if they will gain something from coming.
It takes so much courage when new grandparents ring our door-bell, they still, just as those 11 years ago grandparents, have no idea what they are walking in to.
I never actually do need to be worried because the grandparents who are not first timers, just take new grandparents under their wing and fill the room with empathy and compassion.
I just facilitate the meeting, it is the members who make it work, over and over again.
I am so thankful and grateful to them all.
Of course sometimes the emotion of it all can be overpowering for some, and the tears do fall, but it doesn’t matter, we all understand and we remember that we were all once the ‘newbies.’
As I am really just an observer, I watch the process and witness the enormous amount of relief that happens when someone realises they are not alone.
Yes, tears have fallen and thats ok, we need to be allowed to be sad, after all it is one of the saddest situations to be in, but without exception grandparents leave with a smile on their face and have allowed themselves to join in the laughter as well.
It does seem that our group does laugh a great deal!
If anyone is thinking that they might benefit from going to a group meeting, here is what one of our grandparent says,
It is great at meetings, we are just actually normal people having a cup of tea and eating cake!
Of course tea and cake may not be the answer but it most certainly makes attendees feel better, it is what it says on the tin.
A support group.