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Is a Grief Support Group Right For You?

With Self-Help Group Awareness Month upon us this January, it’s important to address the importance of reaching out to others in times of grief. Bereavement services such as support groups are a key part of the grief recovery process. So, if you have recently lost a loved one in San Mateo and elsewhere, it may benefit you to reach out and gather with others who are going through the same experience as you. Many people just like you are facing internal struggles with themselves and are reluctant to reach out to friends or family. Because January is a time to start anew and make a fresh start, this is as good a time as any to connect with those who are sharing your struggles.

How Do Grief Support Groups Work?

Grief groups are built on the foundation of bringing people together who have shared a similar experience of loss so they can share their thoughts and emotions in a safe environment. These groups are meant to provide comfort and assist members in coming to terms with their loss. These groups typically meet at regular intervals, with discussions being moderated by a professional facilitator or volunteer. During these meeting, participants are encouraged to share stories about the ones they have lost, express their emotions in positive ways, and encourage other members to do the same. They can develop coping skills, make friendships, hear from invited guest speakers and take part in special memorials, says Get Healthy Stay Healthy.

There’s a certain universality to support groups. They serve as a reminder that you are not alone, as grief can feel very lonely and isolating. When you feel misunderstood by the world, your support group community will provide you with a haven of understanding, points out What’s Your Grief.

Tips on Getting the Most Out of a Grief Group

Just like with many of life’s challenges, the hardest part of joining a support group is deciding to do it and then taking the first step. Worry not: group leaders are trained to help people open up and talk about their feelings, provide unwavering support to each other, and share insights with others. If you’re still uncomfortable with the thought of joining such a group, that’s normal. You may be intimidated by the idea of sharing such raw and intense emotions with virtual strangers. This is a big hurdle for several first-time members. But remember: those people won’t be strangers for long.

Here are some tips to make the experience as helpful as possible:

  • Do some research. There are likely several different support groups in your area. Pathways alone has at least eight support groups going on at any one time. But look throughout your community to find one that may be the best fit. Each one will have its advantages and disadvantages. Some are more broad, such as the death of a loved one, while others are more specialized, supporting family members after a loved one’s suicide or death from violence, or even daughters grieving their mothers.
  • Accept that it will be difficult to take that first step. That first time may be tough for you. It may seem unnatural and awkward to sit down in a circle of people you don’t know and share your innermost feelings. You’ll also probably be meeting people who are at varying stages of grief. Rest assured, you will integrate quickly into the group you choose but be prepared to deal with a range of emotions.
  • Be on time and stay til the end of the meeting. It can be tempting to decide halfway through that you just want to leave. But wait it out. You will feel more comfortable going back the second time. And always be early or on time. People who are late or who leave early disrupt the feel and flow of the group, making the sharing more stilted.
  • Listen, then share when you’re ready. It’s alright if you just want to sit and be present as an active listener. When you feel ready to share, do so.
  • Respect the group. Support groups are built on mutual respect and a trust that what happens in the group stays there in confidence.
  • Give it a shot. Support groups aren’t for everyone. But you should commit to attending the group at least three times before deciding to not participate any longer. This is how long it takes to evaluate whether the group’s chemistry is a right fit for you. You will know intuitively if it is soon enough. Give it a fair shot.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We offer a variety of grief support group options for those who need them, from partner or parent loss to adult child and general loss. Chances are, you can find a group where you fit in. We even hold a Daughters Grieving Their Mother group, a Moving Forward: 2nd Year Partner Loss group and Ongoing General Grief Support. Please contact us today at 888-978-1306 to learn more about each group and their meeting schedules.