Dissolution of the entire groupAll that lives changes. Weíve said that again and again throughout these notes. Itís also true that all that lives dies. So we turn from departures to dissolutions, to what happens when the group itself reaches its ending.
Circumstances of group dissolutionGroups dissolve under a whole range of circumstances. Sometimes the dissolution is planned; sometimes it comes as a surprise. Sometimes groups end with a bang; sometimes they just fade away.
Practical considerationsDiffering circumstances of dissolution carry different emotional overtones and require different actions. Following are some things to think about and do as you navigate through the ending of a group. Please use what seems applicable and ignore what does not. Some of these suggestions also apply to healing after the loss of a member.
Grief WorkWeíve dealt with this topic in the section on early departures. What we had to say there serves equally well here. After the initial emotional storms have subsided somewhat, the group may benefit from a facilitated discussion of the issues surrounding the departure. Pay especial attention to gathering lessons learned, so that further difficulties of this kind will be less likely.
Learning the LessonsFailure is a harsh word, but when groups explode in anger or dwindle in apathy, itís accurate to say they failed. Give yourself some recovery time. When the initial pain fades, you can learn from any failure, increasing your chances for success in the future. We recommend the following framework for understanding a failure. Hereís the model:
Celebrating the SuccessesGood memories deserve to be highlighted and celebrated. Our friend Lady Galadriel suggests a ďnostalgia session.Ē Hereís her description:
"This should be focused on the good things and memories of the group, not be a bitching session. Everyone should be given a chance to speak (use a talking stick or something similar) and should recall some especially good and poignant moments with the group. Grief processing may also occur, if needed. The point is to help everyone focus on the positive, instead of dwelling on their gripes."
Rituals for closureRituals for closure will vary drastically according to the circumstances under which the group dissolved and the feelings left behind. A study-group class may simply share a bottle of wine at termís end, perhaps toasting one anotherís future. A group which was broken by its leaderís sudden death may find closure in the memorial service.
If your groupís ending was more perplexing, you probably would benefit from a ritual intended to draw formal closure on the groupís experience and allow members to move along with their lives. The problem is that the more you need such a ritual, the less you are likely to be able to gather the former members together to wind things up in peace. So you may have to do it for yourself, or ask trusted friends to do it with or for you. The symbolic gesture can be simple: Judy remembers a friend who carried a handful of dried spaghetti onto the walkway of a bridge, snapped the pasta to break unwanted ties, then dropped the broken bits into the river. That sufficed.
The pitfall of reboundDonít rush into a new group affiliation. Sure, it can work. When Judyís first coven blew up, she joined another within a week. But itís as risky as marriage on the rebound. Your chances will be better if you allow yourself a month, or better yet a quarter, to recover. Take some fallow time to rest and recover. Have some fun, far away from deep spiritual issues.
Wait until you have digested and appreciated both what you learned and how you grew while the group was working well and what you can learn from its failure. Wait, also, until you clearly know what aspects you want to explore next, what kind of group environment will best nurture the next phase of your growth.
Then, be open to surprises. The Old Gods still have many of those in store for us!
go back to:
The address of this page is http://www.proteuscoven.com/endings/breakups.htm
Last modified February 8, 2002