Virtual Grief Support Options

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated December 4, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Grief often involves feelings of anguish and yearning that are typically experienced after a significant loss. Although many people struggling with grief tend to isolate themselves, support from others can be helpful during these challenging periods of life. Online therapy may be another effective option for online grief support.

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Learn To Move Through Grief And Cope With Loss

The Definition Of Grief

The American Psychological Association defines grief in the following way: “the anguish experienced after significant loss, usually the death of a beloved person.

Grief often includes physiological distress, separation anxiety, confusion, yearning, obsessive dwelling on the past, and apprehension about the future.”

The APA goes on to say that intense grief can cause serious physical and mental health concerns, such as immune system disruption and suicidal thoughts.*

*If you or someone you love is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please know that help is available. You can contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24/7 by dialing 988. You can also chat online with someone at the lifeline by visiting 988Lifeline.org, where you can find support in Spanish or English.

Even though grief can feel like a strong and even debilitating emotion, nearly everyone experiences grief when they lose someone who was important to them.

Why Some People Isolate Themselves During Times Of Grief

There can be many reasons why some people isolate themselves throughout the grieving process.

  • If you’re experiencing grief, you may feel like there is no one around who can relate to what you are experiencing or that no one can make you feel better.

  • It could be that you’ve learned unhelpful myths about managing grief and feel like you must stick to coping methods that aren't helping.

  • You might also feel pressure from other people to cheer up, be positive, or not talk about your loss when that is what you really need to do. This may make it seem like the better choice is to isolate yourself instead.

  • Although people usually have good intentions when comforting others, the advice and suggestions given to you may ring hollow or feel unnatural. This can contribute to you wanting to be alone.

As much as you may think you need to be alone during the grieving process, it’s possible that companionship is what you need to help you get through this difficult time. There may be several online grief support options available that may help you through your healing journey.

How Can Online Grief Support Groups Help?

If you are experiencing feelings related to loss, you might consider joining a bereavement group or virtual grief support group. Online group support can be an effective way to get emotional support if you are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Many of them may be structured similarly to in-person meetings, with the only difference being that you can participate in online communities instead of in-person groups.

An online support group typically consists of one or more mental health professionals (such as a grief counselor) who aim to guide participants through their grief. Participants can usually discuss their grief in a supportive space with others who know what they are going through.

There are many different types of virtual grief support groups. Some groups serve as discussion groups and have members meet through video chats and live calls. Other online grief support groups may take the form of online forums or message boards. You may also find groups that use live chat rooms if you prefer meeting online in a safe space where you don’t have to use audio or video. This can turn your home or any other location into “support groups central”, allowing you to get support without having to venture out during periods of emotional distress.

Other groups may primarily be social media groups, such as grief-related Facebook groups or Subreddits.

Furthermore, grief support groups may serve specific groups or a specific type of loss. For example, you may find groups that help young people who have lost family members and other groups that specifically help those who have lost pets. You may also find groups that focus on parents who have lost a child, or groups that help children that have recently lost a parent. If you just want a support group that offers online support for all kinds of grief, you’re likely to find plenty of those as well.

My Grief Angels

Organizations like My Grief Angels may be a helpful option if you’re in search of general grief support. My Grief Angels is a nonprofit created after its founders experienced grief themselves and looked for support. The nonprofit offers many resources to individuals and families who are grieving, including virtual grief support groups, online forums, directories, surveys, and educational content in the form of courses and books.

Grief In Common

While not a completely free resource, Grief In Common offers several options for individuals who are grieving to receive support. Grief In Common offers support groups in which participants meet via Zoom for $20 per session. These are for individuals experiencing all types of loss. You can also try individualized coaching for people who are grieving. The coaching starts with a free 15-minute consultation, and then you can pay for individual audio or video sessions if you choose. 

Finally, Grief In Common operates a service that provides a live chat room where you can connect with others experiencing loss. You can join for $9.99 per year or $0.99 per month (which would be a bit less than $0.25 per week.) In addition, you can use additional resources, forums, and tribute pages for free. 

GA

Another potentially helpful virtual grief support group is Grief Anonymous (GA). This group is similar to other groups (like AA) in that it is structured with the 12 steps.

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What Recovery From Grief Can Look Like

During times of grief, it may help to remain connected with others in your life who can support you through your challenging periods. It can also help to reach a state of acceptance regarding your feelings and thoughts about your lost loved one.

Through grief recovery work, you may find yourself appreciating the people and the small moments of your life more as you connect to them in an intentional way.

You may find that memories of the friends or loved ones you have lost still hurt sometimes, but that you can also remember them with laughter and joy again. When you grieve someone, you may not necessarily be saying goodbye to them and the memories you created together. Instead, you may be saying goodbye to the pain of their absence and hurts from your relationship that you feel you did not get to repair.

Sometimes, we can feel like there are things, even apologies, that we never got to say to someone. Other times, we may not have had a chance to hear our loved one say things that were important for us to hear.

You may reach the end of your healing journey once you feel a sense of acceptance regarding these difficulties.

The Importance Of Healthy Self-Care And Coping Skills

Some of the ways that people attempt to handle grief can lead to additional problems. For instance, misusing alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings (sometimes incorrectly referred to as “drug abuse” or “substance abuse”) may make it harder to heal in many cases. It can be common to employ unhealthy behaviors like substance use to temporarily distract yourself or relieve pain, but these can often come with a higher level of risk. Instead, it is usually more helpful to reach out for help through online support groups and learn evidence-based strategies for handling grief.

Online Therapy May Help You Cope With Loss

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Learn To Move Through Grief And Cope With Loss

Aside from various online grief support groups, online therapy can be another source of support that you can reach from home. Research shows that online therapy is effective for a variety of mental health challenges, including grief and bereavement. In one meta-analysis published in JMIR Mental Health, researchers found that online grief counseling was effective for grief, depression, and post-traumatic stress. 

Online therapists can often provide grief counseling techniques to help you cope with any feelings of anguish and yearning. With BetterHelp you can generally be matched with a licensed therapist in 24-48 hours. A brief questionnaire is usually all it takes to be matched with a therapist who is ready to provide the help you deserve while you’re grieving.

With BetterHelp, you can communicate and connect with a licensed therapist via audio or video chat at a time that works for you. If you have questions or concerns in between sessions, you can contact your therapist at any time via in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.

Takeaway

When we experience a significant loss, particularly the loss of a loved one, we often feel emotions of yearning and anguish that are commonly referred to as grief. Getting support from others can have numerous benefits, often serving as an effective way to move through the stages of grief into acceptance. There are many online grief support options to help with this process, such as Facebook groups or grief groups on other social media platforms. Meanwhile, working with a licensed mental health professional through an online therapy platform may also help you process your feelings of loss and grief. Mental health professionals may also be able to help you with any mental health disorders or conditions you are experiencing at this time.

Whatever loss you’ve experienced, you don’t have to face it alone. Take the first step toward healing from the loss of a loved one and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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