Q. My older sister recently died and my friends have urged me to join a support group to help me deal with her death. I'm not quite sure how to go about doing this - could you help direct me?

A.

Grief is a process which continues over a period of time, and so many people have been able to find the comfort and direction they need by seeking out individual counseling or by joining a bereavement support group. People often express that they understood more about the nature of grief, were more accepting of their feelings, and felt less isolated when they participated in counseling or in a support group.

Here are some benefits of participating in a support group:

  • You will connect with other members of the group who have a shared difficult life experience, the loss of a loved one.
  • Sharing a loss helps create a bond of trust among members and allows a support system to naturally develop over time as the group holds regular meetings.
  • Members encourage one another to express powerful feelings which normally emerge during loss: sadness, anger, frustration, and longing for the loved one, as well as hope for the future.
  • Members exchange information about the grief process such as articles, books, and websites, and what has been helpful for them.
  • Often, the group may decide to devote a special meeting to sharing pictures of their loved ones with each other. This experience can be a way of honoring the legacy of those who have died.
  • Members support each other as they anticipate and experience days that may be especially challenging, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and the holidays.

It is important to remember that, as a group member, you are encouraged to share as much or as little as you wish. A group can give you the strength you need to carry on through the daily ups and downs that are part of grief and provide you with invaluable ideas to help you care for yourself.