5 Reasons To Join A Grief Support Group (Even If You're Not The Support Group Type)

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hands join into a supportive circle

Support groups for any aspect of our lives can be beneficial. 

In today’s world, there are support groups available for people dealing with a variety of situations including different illnesses, survivor experiences, and loss.

While many of us find vital support initially within our family and friend network, the objectivity of an external support group can be a wonderful asset.

After someone we love passes, there are various options for us to connect with others in similar circumstances. For those experiencing the loss of a loved one, there are grief groups online and in person — many of which are tailored to specific parameters, like groups grieving the passing of a spouse, the passing of a child, death by disease/illness and more. 

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The main reason people start attending grief group gatherings is to find support for themselves while they are grieving.

For some, the depth of emotion is something not encountered before, and they realize additional help may be useful.  

When in grief, it can be extremely difficult to get ourselves up and out the door to go anywhere or do anything. However, many folks find grief groups as a motivation to do so, especially in cases where family and friends cannot offer the same inspiration. 

There are many benefits that encourage people to attend grief groups — some of which are obvious and others that can be a bit more subtle.

Even people who never thought they would gain anything from such a gathering can sometimes find these groups to be a lifeline or a valuable respite as they tread waters to a new norm.

Here are five reasons why attending grief groups could be helpful to you or someone you know.

1. Personal connection with people who understand

We, as humans are social creatures — granted the level of “necessary” interaction varies person-to-person, however, we all thrive on being and conversing with others to a degree.

Some of us require a more personal connection with deep discussions while others are content to connect more casually, depending upon what is needed to fill the space for us.

In grief, support groups help us feel less alone at a time when we may feel as though no one can possibly understand what we’re going through. They help us socialize in some fashion despite our grief, if we are ready, without the expectation of participation. Grief groups provide a chance to interact with others who’ve experienced similar events and emotions.

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2. A uniquely safe space

Grief groups provide people a chance to be open and honest with their roller coaster of emotions usually free of judgment or assumption. Some of us do not have the option to deal with our feelings throughout the day for a variety of reasons, which can impede our progress toward healing.

When we meet with others who are also dealing with grief, we can often find ourselves a bit more secure and open to sharing with those who can be understanding of where we are on our journeys.

We may say things in this safe space that we might not normally raise or discuss with close family or friends. This safe space can enable us to truly express what we need to or explore the situation with others who are going through or have gone through similar situations.

3. You can learn and plan for what's ahead

When a loved one dies, the circumstances of the person’s passing and their absence can conjure up sorrow at such depths that we may not have even known we were capable of feeling.  Support groups help us learn how other people have successfully maneuvered the waters of grief and what practices we might employ to help ease the pain.

Grief gatherings can also help us make sense of what we’re feeling and why. They can give us a heads-up for what’s to come or reassure us what we’re experiencing is normal and that it’s ok to be vulnerable.

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4. You may be able to uplift others, too

Attending and sharing at a grief support group can help others wherever they are on their grief journey. We don’t know how positively someone may be impacted by our relaying thoughts, emotions, and situations. Sometimes just showing up and being present to listen is enough to help another person breathe a bit deeper. Often in grief, we feel helpless and may feel that we’re relying on other people too much.

As much as we don’t like to acknowledge or feel the pain of the grief, occasionally knowing that we’ve positively influenced someone, makes us feel good, even if for a moment. Helping others while they step through their grief can be rewarding, and in turn, helps us with our struggle simultaneously.

5. You may even find some hope

The rocky road of grief includes highs and lows that can leave us feeling fragile. Depending upon where we are in our journey, we can see how others who are further along in their journey have accepted a new normal in their lives – letting us know that we can get there too, in time. And, if we’re further along in our journey, we can provide hope for others through our story of survival and how we continue toward a path of functioning in new ways.

Sharing our stories can inspire others with hope. Despite the feeling that all odds may be against us, grief groups can help us see a light at the end of the tunnel — regardless of how close or far away that light might be.  

If you’re in the midst of a grief situation, know that it’s okay to share that vulnerability. Not only is it okay, but it can prove to be incredibly healing to do so. Know when we share in our grief, we disperse the load just a little bit; we let go so we carry less, one day at a time until we can breathe fully once again.   

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Pamela Aloia is a certified grief coach, Reiki master/teacher, and author helping people become better versions of themselves through individual sessions, energy work, meditation, and more.