Han Fellowship and the Dog Bite
What a unique title that totally summarizes the last few weeks of my life. So grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and enjoy the saga.
First let me describe the idea of Han Fellowship before I weave the story of how the dog bite put an interesting chapter in this story.
A few years ago my husband was diagnosed with COPD. His health is slowly declining while the lack of oxygen affects his brain. Lump these things together and I find myself caring for him, running the house, raising the kids, and juggling all the details that life requires.
But this slow process of becoming a caregiver has given me a glimpse into the struggles my friends are facing as widows. Our loses look different but the similarities of grieving the loss of our husbands binds our hearts.
While we are grieving and battling the changes that death and illness bring into our lives; we cling to hope. This grief and hope is the tip of the ice berg for understanding the Korean word Han. Have you ever experienced a situation where you cried and laughed at the same time? Not tears of joy but tears of grief.
There is an episode of West Wing (season 5, episode 92) where a North Korean pianist wants to defect. At the end of the episode President Bartlet says of Han, “There is no literal English translation. It’s a state of mind. Of soul, really. A sadness, a sadness so deep no tears will come. And yet still there is hope.”
A few weeks ago I asked to start a small group for widows and caregivers at my church. I met with an elder to discuss the details and help me flesh out what I was really looking to accomplish. Thus I chose the name Han Fellowship as the group name.
My heart’s desire is to form a group where women can share about their feelings and share in the struggles of grieving the loss of a spouse. A place where we can remind each that we are not alone; there is hope. Maybe laugh over a few things too. Humor is great medicine.
So I have reserved a room at the church for the first Thursday of every month. In the morning we can meet over coffee and tea and share a devotion. During fellowship we can share with each other anything from a story about our spouses to discussing help with car repairs.
While I was in the process of organizing this group I found myself in a pet store buying bunny supplies for the new bunny in our family. Sometimes a new pet helps my people heal. Yes, I might even call her our therapy bunny since she is so calming to cuddle.
When I was standing in line a women with a German Shepherd was in front of me. Her dog seemed curious about my bunny supplies so I smiled and thought oh he wants to stiff the bedding and in the very next moment the dog bit me twice on the hand. It took me a few minutes to even realize what had happened. Immediately a huge hematoma formed on my hand.
I was in shock and was struggling to not pass out, which I often do at the site of blood. The vet in the store came over and gave me a cloth and ice pack to help. Information was shared and medical advice given. Then the vet shared with me that dog had just lost his owner. The women had just lost her husband 2 weeks ago and she and the dog were both grieving. He had had cancer and they only knew about the cancer 5 weeks before before he died.
In my mind I could just not believe I had been bitten by a grieving dog. I told the vet I understood and left the store. I later went back with a sympathy card containing a letter explaining the new group I was starting and invited the woman to attend.
My friends keep telling me that sending out flyers is an easier way to invite people but my life did not come with an easy button.
While I think I am the last person to attempt to organize and facilitate a group my heart knows that it heals best in reaching out and helping others.