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Why is a Bereavement Group Helpful?

When a loved one dies, it can be devastating. The world changes for those in grief. While some may be grateful that their elderly loved one is no longer suffering, there are countless others who were not ready for a family member or friend’s life to end. Perhaps the death was sudden or unexpected. If a child died, nothing can prepare those left behind for the anguish to be experienced.

Many can benefit from a bereavement support group. They may have a certain start and finish date, or be ongoing. Each session lasts for an hour and a half, once a week. The group may be small with only four or five attendees, or have a gathering of eight at the most.

I will facilitate our meetings. Others in the room are like you; they have lost a loved one. Some may want to talk, others will only cry. Usually participants are seated in a circle where they can see each other’s faces. The atmosphere is nurturing and warm.

A good facilitator, or leader, is empathetic. She should have experience in dealing with the emotions of many who have had a loved one die. A facilitator must be warm, compassionate and caring. She will know how to mediate should there be problems that may develop with the participants. She will be in tune with the group dynamics.

The participant has had a major loss and is needy. He or she should feel free to cry, to talk or not to talk. In time, the participant needs to know that he or she is not alone; others in the group are also experiencing deep sorrow and have needs as well.

stop-crying-stop-grief-therapy-chino-caHere is a sample of a grief group session’s topics:

  • Handling the holidays
  • What to do with the loved one’s possessions
  • Meaningful rituals
  • Handling co-workers and family members
  • Dealing with depression
  • Reinvesting in life

In order to make a group function as it should, there are often rules that members should abide. Most include:

  • Listen
  • No arguing
  • Confidentiality
  • Respecting each other
  • Taking turns to talk

The group as a whole also has goals. The purpose of the grief sessions are to provide:

  • Self-awareness
  • Healing
  • New friends
  • A sense of community
  • Support of others
  • A way to learn coping skills

In a group, you want to feel comfortable sharing, crying and talking. You want the support of others. If a group isn’t helping you, leave it, and look for another. If you would like more information on the Bereavement group, please feel free to call for more information.


Grief Support Groups: Are They Really Helpful?

grief-help-counselingGrief is a natural reaction to loss, whether the loss comes as the death of a loved one or beloved pet, the end of a marriage, or the loss of a job or financial or social standing. The Grief Index, a national report compiled by the Grief Recovery Institute Educational Foundation, Inc., cites “major negative consequences” that can occur as a result of attempting to hide, rather than share, one’s grief. Some of those consequences include depression, anxiety, alcohol or drug abuse, poor decision-making and many troubling physical symptoms.

Nancy Sherman, Director of Bereavement Services for the Center for Grief & Healing with Hospice of the North Shore, says support groups provide an answer for many people. According to Sherman, support groups “offer a safe place where people who are hurting come together to work through their grief.” Supportive family members, friends and therapists have their place in grief recovery, but drawing support from and giving support to others who are going through the same thing provides a kind of help one can’t find elsewhere. According to one support group member cited by Sherman, “Hearing how others feel makes you feel you’re not alone.”

Still, people are often wary of participating in groups, according to Sherman. Many are simply uncomfortable with the notion of talking about their feelings in front of others, while others hold misconceptions about support groups that prevent them from opening themselves to the relief and healing a group can offer. Following are five popular myths about grief support groups, countered by reality.

Myth: Everyone in the group has to talk.
Reality: Although the group is formed on the premise that talking through your grief is helpful, no one is forced to talk. Grief groups are non-threatening gatherings, and many people are helped simply by listening.

Myth: My grief isn’t as severe (or important, or serious) as others.
Reality: Although grief is a universal experience, everyone’s grief is different. Bereaved individuals are encouraged not to compare themselves to anyone else. The common bond is the need for help in coping with grief.

Myth: A grief support group will be depressing.
Reality: In fact, many find the opposite to be true. Group participants feeling relieved and uplifted when they realize they are not alone in their emotions. Groups provide a supportive environment where people can feel release their emotions to make room for healing.

Myth: My loss happened a long time ago; I’ll feel silly to bring it up now.
Reality: Grief follows no timetable. Many milestone events – weddings, anniversaries or birthdays, for example – can trigger memories that make the loss feel painfully new. A support group can help people cope with a loss, no matter when that loss occurred.

Myth: Grief support groups are only for the families of people who received foster care.
Reality: Although grief support groups are often (but not always) sponsored by hospice organizations, services are usually open to anyone who has experienced a loss, often at no charge or for a small fee. The generous donations of grateful participants help support these programs.
In truth, then, support groups offer hope for the future to anyone who’s grieving.