How To Choose The Right Bereavement Support Group
For some people, grief can last a lifetime. After losing someone, you may have to adjust not only to the absence of the person you loved but to an entirely new way of life as you plan an alternative course that does not include them.
Since grief is complicated, everyone processes their feelings at different speeds and heals in unique ways. While friends and family can provide emotional support for a time, they may not have the time, energy, and patience to offer constant support.
When the support of friends and family becomes inadequate, you may consider joining a bereavement support group. Finding the right bereavement support group can be difficult, so there are a few considerations to note as you search for a group to belong to.
What is a bereavement support group?
If you are early in the grieving process, friends and family may act as immediate support. However, if you've been struggling with grief for an extended time, attending a bereavement support group may help you in the long term. Below are the potential benefits of a bereavement support group:
A circle of healing
A safe place to express feelings due to loss
Validation and understanding
An opportunity to educate yourself about the grieving process
A place to get information about grief and loss
Education in fundamental skills for navigating loss successfully
An environment where those struggling with grief can help one another
A helpful source of referrals to professionals, websites, and other resources
Steps to choosing the right bereavement group
If you believe you might benefit from this resource during your grieving journey, there are a few considerations to look at before choosing.
Research group options
Start by compiling a list of bereavement support groups in your area. Trustworthy sources of information could include doctors' offices, hospitals, therapists, and other health professionals. When you have the names of some groups that seem promising, dig deeper to find out if one of these groups could be worth your time. Some towns may have grief centers with unique groups and opportunities, such as adult grief camps.
Find out the size of the group
Before attending a group, ask how many people attend regularly. Generally, five to 15 people may be ideal for a support group to function effectively, but every group can differ. You might prefer a smaller group that offers a sense of vulnerability or a larger one that allows you to connect with more people.
Consider the facilitator's qualifications
Another major factor to consider is the qualifications of the facilitator. Not all groups have a facilitator with professional qualifications, and these may not be necessary. However, if there is a leader, it may be helpful for them to be familiar with grief and the grieving process. It could also be helpful for them to understand group dynamics, practice non-judgmental listening, and have the ability to control situations as they arise.
If the facilitator is a volunteer, consider asking about their training and qualifications to lead a bereavement support session. If all these details appear in your favor, joining may be beneficial.
Attend a meeting
To know if a group is right for you, it may help to test out a few meetings. A clear structure and evidence of established norms in the group can be valuable. However, also look for a group that safeguards the information people give. If you go to several meetings and the facilitator doesn't mention keeping the details of others safe, you might decide to try another group.
After the meeting is over, consider how you feel. Reflect on how your emotional state has altered since you first arrived. If the group is the right fit, you may relate to a few or all of the following statements:
I have learned some coping skills for dealing with my grief.
I feel less alone.
I now have helpful information and resources to guide me through the process.
I have more positive feelings about myself.
I feel less hopeless.
I feel that other participants of the group are supportive and encouraging.
I feel better than I did when I came in.
Even if a support group looks helpful on paper and meets all the criteria you've been searching for, how the group makes you feel may be more critical. The purpose of a bereavement support group is to support your mental wellness. If the group doesn't accomplish these goals, consider searching for other options.
Alternative support options
Grief can be painful and isolating, but you don't have to walk through this journey alone. In some cases, a bereavement support group may help you process your feelings healthily and productively. In other scenarios, you might benefit from extra support.
Grieving can be challenging to cope with outside of the home, and some people may not want to physically attend therapy or a support group during this time. In these cases, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp can connect you with a therapist familiar with the grieving process. In addition to your individual sessions, you may be able to join support groups online with others who are moving through grief.
A study on internet-based therapy found that grief can often be treated online. Researchers in the study assessed the efficacy of an internet-based intervention for grief after bereavement and found reductions in symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress, and grief. Participants rated their satisfaction with the treatment and the quality of the intervention highly.
A bereavement support group can provide comfort, socialization, kindness, and empathy. However, if you seek more personalized guidance, consider talking to a grief counselor online or in your area.
What happens in a GriefShare group?
GriefShare is a 13-week in person support group for adults offering bereavement services. Each weekly meeting begins with a 30-minute video featuring experts discussing grief-related topics and first-person accounts of people who have also experienced loss. After the video, group members talk about the information in the video and what they are experiencing in their lives. Group support can help people going through grief find comfort, normalize the experience, and provide a supportive environment to work through their emotions. Each group member also gets a participant guide to use as a road map for processing emotions and coping with loss.
What are the 7 stages of grief after losing a child?
Parents may experience many types of grief. People commonly refer to the five stages of grief, but there are other models, one of which outlines seven stages of grief. They are:
- Shock and denial
- Guilt and pain
- Anger and bargaining
- Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness
- The Upward Turn
- Reconstruction and Working Through
- Acceptance and Hope
Does the pain of losing a child ever go away?
Grief is different for everyone, but for some, the pain of losing children may never go away completely. Although pain may fade in time, there may always be things that remind them of their child and cause that pain to return.
How do you deal with the grief of losing a loved one?
Coping with adult grieving can be challenging, but there are things you can do to try to cope. Let yourself feel your grief and the emotions that come along with it. Focus on self-care, get enough exercise and sleep, and eat healthy food. Journaling or creating art can help you process your symptoms, too.
Remember that you don’t have to go through grieving a death alone. Social support can be crucial and have a healing power for navigating grief. Reach out to close friends or loved ones for support, or contact a grief counselor or therapist for additional support. Bereavement or community support groups can also help you meet people who are also grieving, learn new coping skills, share your story, and feel less alone.
Does GriefShare cost money?
Every group is different, but according to GriefShare, some groups are provided free but others may charge up to $25 to cover the cost of the participant guide.
Are GriefShare groups religious?
GriefShare is based on Christian ideas but may not necessarily be religious. According to GriefShare, these programs have helped people from all faiths and those who are not religious find hope and healing.
What are the six tasks of grieving?
Psychologist J. William Worden developed four tasks of mourning to help us understand how people work through grief. These four tasks are to accept the reality of the loss, process the pain of grief, adjust to a world without the deceased, and help survivors find a place for the deceased in their emotional life.
What are the three stages of grief work?
Grief work doesn’t have three distinct stages. It is a theory that suggests detachment and severing ties and bonds with the deceased can help cope with grief and loss. The grief work theory suggests that this severing may be essential to healing and a return to normality.
What are the four tasks of grieving?
Worden’s four tasks of mourning are to accept the reality of the loss, process the pain of grief, adjust to a world without the deceased, and help families find a place for the deceased in their emotional lives.
How long does grief last?
Grief doesn’t have a timeline; it is different for everyone. Some people may grieve for days or weeks, while others can grieve for years. If your loved one is in hospice care, you may experience anticipatory grief, which starts before someone’s death.
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