“Why don’t you check out a grief support group,” is often offered as a suggestion to people after the loss of a loved one. And it’s not a bad suggestion. Grief and bereavement support groups offer many benefits to participants.
Grief support groups come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are specific to a type of loss or tragedy. They can be less specific, as well.
A free, community resource
CHP Hospice offers monthly support groups at several locations throughout the area. Sessions are led by a licensed medical social worker, or by a trained hospice chaplain. These groups are offered free of charge to anyone in the community, regardless of whether or not their loved one used CHP services.
Here are five benefits of a grief support group:
- Provides Hope
Grief is a journey, with detours and straightaways, starts and stops. While no two experiences are the same, there is a shared experience of loss. Gathering in a group allows people who are early in their journey to connect with those who are further along. Meeting with and talking to others who have experienced a similar loss shows that it’s possible to feel joy again. For those further along in their healing process, sharing such reassurance can provide important affirmation to themselves, and confirm that the group is a helpful resource for others.
- You are not alone.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of a grief support group is the reminder that you are not alone. Grieving can be terribly lonely and isolating, especially when everyone around you seems to be “getting on with their lives.” By attending a support group, you may find that other people have experiences, feelings, and struggles that are similar to your own. When your grief is overwhelming, the support group community says, “We’ve been there. We understand you.” This is a powerful statement at a critical time.
- A Different Perspective
As mentioned – no two grieving journeys are the same. However, those who have experienced a similar loss may have valuable advice and suggestions, critical insights, or a different outlook to share. By listening and learning, you may come away with some useful perspectives to help you move along on your grief journey.
- Giving Back
Giving back to others grounds people with a sense of purpose and meaning. This altruism can serve as a helpful tool in the healing process. When you participate in a grief support group, you’ll receive advice, but you also share your story and inspire others, too. Often we don’t realize how far along on our own journey we truly are until we guide and support someone on her or his journey.
- A Sense of Belonging
We, as humans, have an innate need to belong, to be part of a tribe or group. This survival instinct has served us well for thousands of years. Indeed, studies show that a sense of belonging can contribute to our overall happiness. Following a loss, you may feel alone or left out, and different than others because of your grief. Finding a group that understands and accepts you can be an important step in your healing. No one wants to be in the grief club, but once you’re in the club, you may find comfort in surrounding yourself with other members.
At CHP Hospice, we want each of our patients and their loved ones to know that no matter what happens during an end-of-life situation, they are not alone and they have a hand to hold. That’s why we provide grief support services both during a patient’s time with us, as well as for one year after a patient passes.