Losing someone you love is hard, and you may feel overwhelmed as you navigate life without your loved one. You’re not alone! While everyone grieves differently, many people find themselves struggling after the death of a loved one. That’s why many people find joining a grief support group helpful.
A grief support group can be a great way to surround yourself with a support system after a loved one’s death and hear from others who have also lost someone they love. Plus, you can learn how to express your emotions and grief in a safe space.
But going to a grief group for the first time can be intimidating! While every grief support group will be different, here are a few things you can expect at most groups.
Most grief support groups have a facilitator who helps lead discussions, organize the group, and keep everyone on topic. Depending on the group, the facilitator might be a licensed counselor, a religious leader, or a peer from the group. Some groups may also have more than one facilitator or rotating leaders, depending on the size of the group and how often they meet.
When choosing a grief support group, consider what type of facilitator you would prefer. Do you want professional expertise and advice from the leader? Or would you rather be part of a group led by a peer who has experienced something similar to you? Everyone has different needs, so look for the type of facilitator who fits your wishes.
Time to Share and Listen
A big benefit of a grief support group is having a safe space to talk about what you’re feeling. For many people, this idea can be intimidating. However, expressing and acknowledging your emotions is an important step in your grief journey. The emotions you feel after a loss, even anger and guilt, are normal, and refusing to talk about them will only make things harder for you.
However, you won’t be forced to share if you don’t feel comfortable! You can also learn a lot simply by listening to others as they speak about their own experiences with grief. Hearing from others can be a great way to learn that you’re not alone. While everyone grieves differently, hearing about others’ grief could help you find new ways to process your own emotions. Plus, as you share your struggles and grow together, you can support each other along your grief journeys.
Grief support groups aren’t just for talking about what you and your peers feel. They also provide a space for you to learn more about what grief is, how different people experience it, and what you can do to progress along your grief journey. Grief doesn’t end the day of the funeral, and your facilitator and peers in the group can help you learn more about how to cope with your grief in a healthy way.
Plus, many grief support groups can provide you with grief resources, like brochures, flyers, or online articles. Some grief support groups may recommend reading certain books about grief, and your facilitator may be able to point you to more resources, like professional grief counseling.
As you look for a grief support group that works with your needs and schedule, remember that every group will have its own guidelines and methods. You may not like the first grief support group you try, and that’s okay! Keep looking for one that works for you, and don’t be afraid to ask for extra support from close friends and family.
Your local funeral home should be able to point you to grief support groups in your specific area. Additionally, you can check out these online resources for grief support:
- National Alliance for Children’s Grief (child)
- The Compassionate Friends (all grief)
- National Widowers Organization (widowers)
- Soaring Spirits International (loss of spouse)
- COPE (loss of sibling)
- TAPS (loss of veteran or service member)
- GriefShare (all grief)
- MISS Foundation (loss of child)
- SAVE (suicide loss)