Bereavement groups come in many different formats, however, their key aim is to provide those who have lost a loved one with a place to go to meet others who are going through the same thing. Many people find solace and reassurance in these groups and would thoroughly recommend them to others. Although bereavement groups may not be the best fit for everyone, it is important that people know these groups are available. Here, we discuss the possible positives and challenges of bereavement groups.
You don’t need to discuss your feelings if you don’t want to
Although many groups encourage this, you do not necessarily have to discuss how you are feeling with others. You might not feel up to doing this, and discussing your loved ones or feelings with strangers may make you uncomfortable. This is completely natural. There are no strict rules to say you have to act a certain way in a bereavement group. Many groups have now started to focus on activities rather than talking. Whilst some groups organise day trips, others hold activities each meeting or have guest speakers to share their thoughts or teach new skills.
There is no commitment to stay
You are under no obligation to continue going to a group if you do not feel like you need to anymore or that you don’t particularly like them. If you go to a group to seek support and it doesn’t feel right then that’s fine. You can research another group or go down another avenue for support. The choice is completely down to you and what feels right.
They can help provide a sense of hope
Although it is not always the case, a lot of bereavement groups are run by those who have been through a loss themselves. All members will be going through some form of grief and those who are doing well and finding new ways to continue with their lives and new things that bring them joy can really help instill hope to those new to the group and those who have recently lost someone. Although bereavement groups are not the happiest of places, they can still bring a sense of positivity and hope which is helpful to those struggling.
Help you understand you are not alone
Everyone grieves differently and everyone is unique, however, bereavement and support groups show that people are feeling similar to you and show that you are not alone. For many, grief can be a very lonely and isolating experience, so having people to talk to and be around that have gone through a similar situation is sometimes priceless.
Can share important information
Those who have been through similar experiences to yourself can be a beacon of information and understanding. They can provide helpful suggestions and may provide a new outlook or approach to a situation. Although you do not need to adopt all the information and guidance you are given, bereavement groups can provide a lot of knowledge that you may find useful. In the future, you may also be in the position to share the knowledge you have gained at the group with others who have just lost a loved one.
May feel overwhelming
Some people may find grief support groups overwhelming. Whilst it can be helpful sometimes to hear other people’s experiences and realise they share the same emotions you are currently feeling, it can be a lot to take in. If you are feeling vulnerable you may not be in the best position to listen to others feeling angry, sad, regretful, etc. You need to keep an eye on how you are feeling when others are sharing their emotions. If you find it too much you may need to take a break from the group and try again another time.
May not find it reassuring
Whilst support groups are sought out by many to be a place to provide support and hopefully guidance and positivity, some may feel disappointed. Those who have recently lost a loved one and are still in the early stages of grief may feel disheartened that people who are further along in their grief are still expressing a lot of pain and negativity. It is important for people to realise that everyone has bad days and that these bad days can still occur months, years, and even decades after you have lost someone. Some people may also be positive in all other aspects of their life but deliberately choose support groups as the only outlet of negativity and anger. It is important to know everyone’s individual circumstances and not let it put you off support groups entirely. They have been helpful to many people who are experiencing loss.
The main purpose of bereavement groups is not about moving on and forgetting your loved ones. It is about finding a way to continue remembering them whilst still living your own life to the fullest. Some people also find it a struggle to grieve at all which can lead to issues both emotionally and healthwise. Therefore it is important for those who feel this way to get the support they need. A bereavement group is just one of those options available.
Bereavement groups may not be a good fit for you, however as there are so many different types that are available for all ages, it might be something you want to explore and see how you feel afterward. The important thing is for you to feel comfortable and supported in whichever decision you make.