When a loved one dies, your world can be turned upside down. Even when the loss is expected, it can still be painful. Trying to go through grief alone can often be hindering to the process of healing. Grief support groups were created to help others get through the pain of losing someone dear. There are many positives to attending a grief counseling support group.
Support groups have been proven to raise the self-esteem of its members. They can also teach you effective coping skills for dealing with negative emotions. They keep you from isolating yourself from the world and give you a sense of belonging.
For virtually no financial cost, you can learn to take control of your emotions and overcome distress.
Below are six more reasons and how to choose the right group for your grief.
Honors the One You Lost
The best way you can honor the one you loved and lost is to make their legacy meaningful. Continuing their legacy in some way can give you a positive goal to work towards and a sense of accomplishment when you reach it.
Your loved one would want you to find ways to live life and find joy and happiness. Why not do it in their honor? A great way to start this journey is in a support group. The members of the group will welcome your stories about your loved one. They will encourage you to continue their legacy.
They may even help you reach your goal of having the legacy of your loved one help others. Examples of this can include starting a scholarship fund or hosting an annual event in their honor. The important thing is that you are finding ways to celebrate their legacy.
You Will Not Be Judged
Your grieving is yours only. Each person mourns in their own way and there is no one method of grieving that is right or wrong.
Grief support group members understand the grieving process varies and they respect what may take someone months to grieve can take another person years.
Gives You Permission
Support groups give you permission to feel your emotions. There will be people in your life who mean well when they try to get you to heal quicker than you are ready. However, they may not understand the grief process.
They may not realize you are on an emotional roller coaster. Or, they may be going through their own grieving process.
Support groups are filled with others with similar experiences. They know just how hard some days can be. In a support group, your emotions are welcome whether you are having a good day or a difficult day.
Adapt to the Present
When you grieve, it is easy to get stuck in the past and cling to memories of the one who died. Keeping memories is essential. However, you must also learn to hold on to the memories while also adapting to life without your loved one.
Members of a support group can help you adapt. You can help them adapt. Together, you can teach each other how to exist in a new lifestyle without the one you are missing. Learning to combine both the past and the present in a healthy way is important to your mental health.
Education about Grief
Knowledge about the grief process helps you understand the many emotions you will experience. You will not be surprised or fearful when you feel anger towards the loss of your loved one. Or, you will not feel guilty when you begin to accept the reality that they are gone for good.
There are several stages of the grief process that you may find confusing and difficult. By learning what to expect, you can conquer each stage of the grief process.
The stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some reports show there are additional stages. After denial, many people feel pain and guilt. Between depression and acceptance, there is a notable upward swing in which people begin to regain a desire for living, despite not having the one they love.
Getting stuck in any of these stages is unhealthy for you and those who love you. Consistently attending a support group can help you move through these stages properly.
Gives You Purpose
Being a part of a group, contributing to a group and receiving support from a group helps you remain accountable. Being a part of a grief support group gives you purpose to continue after your loved one dies.
When you have a purpose, you feel valuable. Making the commitment to show up and support others, and receive support, will help you work on your grief.
You will also be able to help others through their grieving process. They need you as much as you need them. You understand one another’s grief, even if your stories vary.
When you have purpose, you have hope. Sometimes that hope is just what you need to keep you going.
Choosing the Right Group
There are many types of support groups for those who are grieving. You can choose to attend an online grief support group and meet with others from around the world who are experiencing similar emotions.
You may also want to attend a grief support group in person. There are grief support groups that range from general to more specific groups that are focused on how your loved one passed. For example, groups for people whose loved ones died of cancer. Or, for those whose loved ones died unexpectedly.
Receiving family counseling or group counseling with family and friends who are also grieving the one whom died may also be beneficial.
A great first step is to meet with a grief counselor. This is simply a mental health professional who has special training in the grief process. Your counselor will be able to connect you with the right support group in your area.
Most likely, your counselor will lead a grief support group. You can choose to attend your counselor’s group or attend one more specific to your needs.