Many people find grief support groups very helpful as they move through the grieving process. These support groups are available online and in communities around the world. Usually, they are led by a trained moderator, but the chance to learn from each other is phenomenal. Joanne Jozefowski in his book The Phoenix Phenomenon suggests that there are five stages of rebuilding a shattered life. They are impact, chaos, adapting, equilibrium and transformation. Grief support groups can be very useful at helping people at every step of the way. Consider these benefits of attending grief support groups.
Main Reasons to Join a Grief Support Group
The reasons that people join grief support groups are as unique as each individual circumstance. Many members who are or have been members of support group say that these are some of the main reasons that they would recommend a grief support group to others.
1. Emotional and Physical Support
Many people worry about being too much of a burden while going through the grieving process. Yet, they need emotional support in a safe environment to be able to deal with their feelings. In some cases, they also need physical support because it can be very difficult to deal with bills when you just want to sit and cry all the time. Grief support groups are a great place to get that support in a safe non-judgmental environment.
2. Permission to Grieve
While your friends and family may expect you to experience deep grief for a while, they may think you should get over it faster than you are ready. Being a member of a grief support group allows you to grieve as long and in the way that you need to grieve. In a support group, you will find that some people are ready to move on very quickly while others require much longer.
3. Somewhere Safe to Talk
Grief support groups are no-judgement zones where people are allowed to express their own thoughts and emotions. If tears come, people will understand because they have likely cried tears for a very similar reason. When people know that they are safe to talk, they often arrive at answers to their own problems. Just releasing pent-up thoughts can be highly therapeutic. When talking outside of a grief support group, people may think that they need to help you solve problems when all you really want is a safe place to release.
4. Sharing Your Own Experience
One of the best ways to heal is to share your experience with others who are going through a similar loss. Most grief support groups have a rotating membership so that those who are further along in the process can share with people who are still in denial and anger. As they pass through the grieving process, they become the leaders helping other people start the journey.
5. Coping Skills
Many people who are going through the grieving process find that they are tempted to drink too much or use drugs to make themselves stop hurting. Grief support groups are a great place to learn new coping skills from people who are sharing what works for them when they are going through similar experiences. Some of these skills might include mindfulness, journaling or planning a memorial.
Many people who are grieving feel very isolated from others. They may be used to going and doing things with their mate. If that mate is suddenly no longer there, they may feel very isolated. A grief support group allows people to build new friendships with people who understand what the other person may be feeling.
7. Build New Traditions
First holidays, birthdays and anniversaries often make it very difficult to get through the first year. instead of trying to isolate yourself becoming very depressed, a grief support group allows members to build new traditions. many of these traditions help people move on while still remembering the great times that they spent with their loved one.
8. Increased Understanding of How Others Grief
While it is important to go through your own grieving process, it is necessary to understand that others are grieving too. Hearing about others grieving experiences makes you more aware of what other people are experiencing. This may allow you to find ways to support children and other family members in their own grieving process even if they do not attend the grief support group with you,
9. Permission to Live a Happy Life
Many people refuse to give themselves permission to laugh and smile again. They see it as being disrespectful to the person who has died. Being in a grief support group allows you to know that moving on at your own time is a great thing to do. You will not feel any pressure, however, to move on until you are ready. As people in the grief support group watch you move on, then they realize that it is OK for them to move on too.
10. Time for Yourself
People who are grieving often have to act like everything is OK. They often have to return to work before they are ready to make sure that bills are paid. New routines have to be created so that children get where they need to be on time. Joining a grief support group gives you a time and place to focus on your own needs. You may discover skills that you need to help you have time for you in your new routine.
The grieving process takes people different lengths of time. Often times, people find that others want them to move on much faster than they are ready to move. In a support group, you will learn from others who are supportive and not judgmental. You will have the time that you need to focus on you and talk about your own experiences. You will also have the opportunity to learn new skills from others who have recently gone through similar circumstances. The bonds that form in support groups can help you prepare for a happy life as you heal.