When you lose a loved one, you may experience complex emotions that feel overwhelming or difficult to navigate. A grief or bereavement support group can help. These groups provide a safe space to talk about how you feel, within a support system that connects you to others who have experienced loss and can provide emotional support, validation and education about grief.
We’ll explore what you can expect from a support group and tips to help you find a grief or bereavement support group to process your loss in a healthy way.
What to expect from a grief or bereavement support group
Grief and bereavement support groups offer a safe environment where you can share your story and express your feelings openly. By establishing connections with others in an understanding, non-judgmental setting, you can reduce feelings of isolation, confront emotions, learn new coping skills, explore your grief and begin to heal.
“Grief is not a problem to be solved; it is a process to be lived,” explains Julie Miele, Executive Director at OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center.
“Grief is a natural reaction to death. When someone dies, grievers may experience overwhelming emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt and perhaps a sense of losing control. Grief support groups, like the ones at OUR HOUSE, offer a warm, supportive, caring environment where children, teens and adults can process their feelings and begin to heal together.”
Whether you’re experiencing loss for the first time or need help navigating a particular type of loss, these groups can provide structure, empathy, a sense of community and hope.
Should I Choose an Online or In-Person Grief and Bereavement Support Group?
Choosing between an online and in-person grief and bereavement support group depends on your personal preference.
If you’re feeling isolated by your grief, an in-person group can help you create connections with like-minded individuals in a supportive setting. If you’re apprehensive about attending a meeting or shy about sharing your story, an online group can offer a safe space to get the support you need anonymously.
You may even choose to attend in-person groups while also participating in an online community. Ultimately, it’s up to you, as both online and in-person groups offer comparable support and resources.
Finding a Grief Support Group for Your Specific Loss
The feelings surrounding the loss of a loved one are very personal. Still, finding a grief or bereavement support group for the type of loss you’re coping with can be an essential first step toward healing. You can use these grief support groups and resources to help you and others with different types of losses.
Losing a child changes a parent’s life forever. While friends and family can be there to empathize with you, there are elements of your grief they may not be able to understand. A support group can help you connect with others experiencing a similar loss.
Dealing with the loss of a brother or sister can be unimaginable. Friends may not understand the complexities of what you’re going through, and the sibling you may have turned to for help may have been the one you lost. It’s common to feel alone and even forgotten.
Bereaved sibling support groups can help you cope, explore ways to keep your sibling’s memory alive, and provide hope – giving you permission to live your life, when you’re ready. OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center offers sibling support groups for children and teens, as well as adults.
Losing the person you vowed to spend the rest of your life with can be a harrowing experience. Partners can provide emotional, social and financial support, and it can be hard to imagine a life worth living without them. Bereaved spouse support groups for widows and widowers can help you mourn your loss and cope with grief to connect with others, heal and find meaning and fulfillment in life again.
GriefShare is an online resource with weekly meetings and video seminars to help you cope and rebuild after losing a spouse, with ongoing resources to help you reflect and sort through your emotions. Find a local chapter near you.
Whether you’re a child or an adult, losing a parent can be particularly challenging. Parents play many roles in our lives, and their loss can leave you feeling empty and depressed.
Tips for Finding a Grief or Bereavement Support Group
A grief or bereavement support group can provide valuable emotional connections and support during a traumatic time. When you’re ready to join a support group, here are some things to consider:
Qualifications: Find out if the group leaders and staff hold qualifications or credentials to lead a grief support group. Sometimes, mental health professionals lead support groups who can facilitate both group and individual sessions.
Frequency of meetings: Decide how often you want or need to attend meetings. If the group doesn’t meet as frequently as you’d like, you can supplement with an online group or talk to the group leaders about additional support options and resources.
Safe, secure environment: Ask if the support group has a code of conduct for its members and their behavior. This can help you understand the type of environment discussions are held in.
The Mayo Clinic, American Counseling Association and CDC can help you find grief resources and local support options. If you’re unsure how to find a support group or which one is right for you, a licensed mental health professional can help.
At The Love Always Project, we understand that we all grieve and mourn in our own way. If you or someone you know recently lost someone, our grief, loss and bereavement resources can help. We believe that healing can begin when we’re ready to acknowledge the complex emotions we’re feeling. Learn more about our mission to help others cope with loss and discuss end-of-life issues: Join the movement.