YEARS AGO, a core group of pioneering grievers at our organization started The Weaver’s Circle to offer connectedness for people, ages 50 and older, who had gone through spousal loss and were venturing forth in the unknown territory called “singlehood.” The “Weavers” wanted to establish bonds through recreational activities, and began meeting once a month for a session that included dinner at a local restaurant.
Leaders Libby Hoeft and Kim Zabilka, both of whom had lost their spouses years earlier, took over as group facilitators in early 2010. They built Weaver’s Circle to balance a “night out” with discussion on topics related to loss.
“It’s not all sadness,” Libby says. “Oftentimes our table will erupt with laughter. Once at a restaurant our waiter stopped by and said, ‘I want to be at this table.’ We all looked at each other, knowing why we were there, and responded, ‘No, you don’t!’ and laughed again!”
Kim and Libby share responsibilities for coordinating the monthly outings. Kim keeps written records for the group and Libby provides the initial contact with potential members – and makes the reservations at area restaurants. They also work together to ensure everyone feels welcomed and that appropriate topics are introduced. “We also try to choose restaurants that provide communal seating options – then, everyone feels included in the conversation,” Libby adds.
So, why has Weaver’s Circle become SMAL*L – Sharing Meals After Loss* Laughter? Because the “common thread” analogy associated with Weaver’s Circle often is hard for newcomers to understand. “When I try to describe what our group is about, people often state, ‘Oh, I am grateful for the explanation; I thought you were a group that literally weaves,” Libby says. It was time to change the name.
Kim and Libby enlisted the group for ideas. One participant suggested using the concept of “starting small,” and all agreed that, after a partner loss, “starting small” is exactly what people have to do: They must begin with small risks and areas of growth until they’re able to make larger strides. SMAL*L, then, became an acronym for the actions of healing: Sharing Meals After Loss* Laughter
“That’s us,” Libby says. “We are the small group, we have big laughter and big hearts.” Indeed that last L – for laughter – seems pretty important to this group, and we’re sure it will be important to those who join.
For information on SMAL*L, contact Fox Valley Hands of Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 630-232-2233.