Individuals who raise such questions usually do not fully understand the purpose and value of grief support groups. These groups exist to provide a safe and supportive environment where those who are mourning the death of a family member or friend can find and give encouragement and support. Consider why people find benefit from a support group, whether at The Hope & Healing Place or elsewhere in the community:
- Helps normalize the grief experience by observing others on the grief journey. We can learn from others who have experienced similar losses and “survived” the pain.
- Provides social contacts which counter the tendency toward isolation. Group members come to realize that they are not alone on the lonely-feeling grief journey.
- Offers a setting where coping skills can be observed and learned for present and future application.
- Creates a non-judgmental, supportive setting where progress is an individual thing.
- The group process teaches people of all ages the skill of listening to others who are grieving.
- Gives some structure to life – some place to go and something to do with other people.
- Offers an emotionally safe setting for processing or expressing thoughts and feelings. The groups promote confidentiality and respect for self and others.
- A mixed-loss group allows group members to compare and contrast grief reactions to the variety of losses experienced by others.
- The educational component gives mourners materials for better understanding grief and practical ideas for helping themselves.
- Provides opportunities for feedback (evidence of progress) from fellow group members and the group facilitators.
- People who really know us and care about us will be extremely pleased that we are putting ourselves in a position to get the support that they are at a loss to provide for us.
- Seeking the support we need to make it through the tough times of grief – the times of questions with no apparent answers, the times of pain without knowing when relief will come, the times of public smiles but private screams – seeking support to make it through is a sign of strength and evidence of good self-care.
By Danny Mize, Advisory Council member for The Hope & Healing Place