How Online Grief Support Can Help You Through The Challenge Of Loss

By Patricia Oelze|Updated September 30, 2022

How do you know if online grief support is best for you? Everyone will suffer great loss eventually. There are different types of grief and losses, all capable of burning scarring memories into our minds. That moment when you realize someone you've known or loved is gone (along with the days, weeks, or months following) can be traumatizing and can cause severe depression. Grief is a natural and normal response to loss, not only due to the death of a loved one but due to other types of major losses, too (such as divorce). We do not always have the tools we need to be able to process grief and move forward on our own. Luckily there are supportive resources that can help.

Grief Is Natural - It Can Be Painful, But There Are Ways To Move Forward.

Why Does It Hurt?

The experience of loss is different for each person, but the news of a death, anyone's death, can cause a peculiar effect on the brain and the body. Essentially, when you begin to come to terms with a loss, you are preparing yourself for your life without those who have passed.

It is like a string between you and your loved one has been cut, but the connection was so significant and you relied on it. Your mind and body are now recovering from this lost connection. Usually, we have business with the person who is gone that feels unfinished, and we do not know how to go about dealing with the feelings associated with the finality of them not being there to say all the things we need to say.

The Definition Of Grief

John James and Russel Friedman define grief as "the normal and natural reaction to a major change in daily routines." Grief can feel abnormal because it is such a strong emotion that can be debilitating, but in fact, all people experience grief in relation to losses.

For a while, you may become lost as you try to get back to your regular routine. But everything probably seems different now because our routine has changed due to what you have lost. You feel a dramatic dip in your mood and interacting with others becomes a serious challenge. As you withdraw yourself from socialization, you disconnect from the other supports in your life, leaving you more distressed than you were before.

Losing Yourself In The Process

There can be many reasons why people tend to isolate themselves through the grieving process. It could make you 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 may be that you may have learned some unhelpful myths about how to deal with grief and feel like you have to stick to some coping methods that really aren't helping. You might feel the pressure from other people to cheer up, be positive, or not talk about your loss when that is what you really need to do. People have good intentions when it comes to wanting someone to feel better, but often the suggestions given to you by others may ring hollow or feel unnatural.

How Can Online Grief Support Help?

If you are suffering from feelings related to loss, you may want to consider joining a bereavement group or online grief support. Online groups are a great way to get support if you are struggling with grief. Many of them are structured similarly to in-person groups with the only difference being that you are participating in an online community instead of in a group in person.

Bereavement support groups and online support groups consist of one or more mental health professionals (such as a grief counselor) who guide participants through their grief. Participants discuss their grief in a supportive space with others who know exactly what they are going through. 

Online grief support groups come in many forms. Some groups act as discussion groups and have participants meet through video chat and live calls. Other online grief support groups take the form of online forums or a message board. You will also find groups that just use live chat rooms if you want live support in a safe space that allows more privacy than video chatting. Other groups are primarily social media groups, such as grief-related Facebook groups or subreddits.

Furthermore, grief support groups may cater to specific groups or a specific loss. For example, you may find groups that cater to young people and young adults and other groups that specifically help those who have lost pets. But if you just want a support group that offers online support for all kinds of grief, then there are plenty of those as well.

One of the best online grief support groups is My Grief Angels. My Grief Angels is a nonprofit founded after the founders experienced great grief themselves and looked for support. The nonprofit offers many great resources for those who are grieving, including online grief support groups, online forums, directories and surveys, and educational content in the form of courses and books.

In addition to the online support, My Grief Angels also provide free online resources that will further help you in healing. For the most part, this nonprofit primarily has a free structure to its services, but some educational products and resources do have a cost. But whether free or at a price, all the products and services that My Grief Angels provides have been helpful for thousands of grieving people.

Another great online grief support group is Grief Anonymous. They are similar to other “Anonymous” groups (like Alcoholics Anonymous) in that it is structured by ten core tenets. 

How Can Online Therapy Help

Though having a support network is incredibly helpful during the grieving process, it is important to understand that grief support groups do not replace professional care. Therefore, in addition to support groups, you may consider joining an online therapy service such as BetterHelp, which is the #1 online counseling website that offers such service. BetterHelp can provide you with a questionnaire specifically directed toward your difficulties in the grieving process. From this questionnaire, you can be matched with a licensed professional therapist who specializes in helping grievers recover.

By speaking to someone who understands what you are experiencing, you may feel some relief from not having to carry all the burdens of your hurt privately. Not only will you be able to express your grief in a healthy environment with a sympathetic and understanding individual, but you can also learn tools that can help you recover from grief in a healthy manner. Peer-reviewed studies show that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy, meaning it can be a great tool to help you heal.

What Recovery From Grief Can Look Like

It is important during times of grief to remain connected with everyone else in your life who can supporting you through your dark periods. It is also important for you to accept your feelings and thoughts about your lost loved one or whatever has contributed to your grief as natural. Sessions with a BetterHelp counselor will guide you to use what you have learned from your relationship with the person who is gone to make the relationships with the people in your life all the more rich and satisfying.

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

Tips For The Recovery Process

You may find that memories of the loved ones you have lost still hurt sometimes, but that also you can remember the times in your relationship or the things about them with laughter and joy again also. When you grieve someone, you are not saying good-bye to them and the memories you created together, you are saying good-bye to the pain of their absence. You are also saying good-bye to any of the hurts from your relationship that you feel you did not get to repair. Sometimes, we feel like there are things, even apologies that we never got to say to someone. Other times, we did not get to hear our loved one say things that were very important for us to hear. These two circumstances can be true related to the same person who has died or left.

Don't Try To Numb The Pain

It could be that some of the ways that you are trying to handle loss-related feelings could be causing problems in your life, such as using drugs, alcohol, or both, to try to numb out for a while. It is common to rely on some unhealthy behaviors that temporarily distract or relieve pain, but you have probably found that those methods aren't doing much to make your pain better in the longer term.

Conclusion

It can be important to mark the end of your relationship with someone who is no longer available to you in a meaningful or ceremonial manner. This is sometimes accomplished with funeral and memorial services, but often, there are still matters that feel unfinished or feelings related to deep issues with that person that you have to deal with when the reality they are gone begins to set in. Working with a counselor can help you to figure out how you need to handle that in a personal way.

How A BetterHelp Counselor Can Help

A counselor can also help you to identify if you are having a reaction to grief that is more complicated and severe than the normal process of grieving. If your grief has gone on for a very prolonged period of time or has resulted in an inability to function well in important areas of your life, it may need to be addressed in a different way.

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