When you’re grieving, it can often feel like no one around you truly understands what you’re going through. This can make it difficult for you to share your feelings, and you might find that you struggle to open up about your grief.
It’s one of the reasons why people turn to grief support groups for help. Aside from being safe spaces for people with similar experiences to come together, these groups can also provide a source of comfort and friendship, at a time when you may feel more alone than ever.
While we know the thought of speaking to new people and making friends while you’re grieving can be daunting, we also know that, for some people, these groups can be life-changing.
On this page, we’ll explain more about what they are and how they can help you to cope with your bereavement. We’ll also share more information about how to join a group, whether in-person or online, and explain what support groups are available here at Sue Ryder.
What are grief support groups?
Grief support groups tend to be safe spaces for people who have experienced bereavement to come together and share how they are feeling. This could involve meeting up in-person or virtually at a specific time every week or month. Or it may be an online group where you exchange messages with other members instead.
Some support groups may also focus on specific types of bereavement, such as the death of your partner or your child, while others may focus on different experiences, such as losing someone to suicide or LGBTQ+ grief.
The topics of conversation will therefore vary from group to group, but all aim to be supportive spaces for you to grieve and grow over time.
Are grief support groups helpful?
Your grief will depend on who you are and the circumstances surrounding your bereavement. That’s why everyone’s experience of a grief support group will be different.
For example, some people prefer to keep how they feel to themselves or try to cope with their emotions on their own. If you relate to that, you might find it helpful to read what others are sharing in an online group or community, rather than open up about your own grief.
If, however, you prefer to talk about what you’re feeling and how it’s affecting you, you might find attending an in-person grief support group really valuable.
Benefits of joining a grief support group
The power of shared experiences in grief can change how you understand and cope with your own bereavement. Here’s how:
You can be honest
A grief support group is a dedicated space for you to be honest about how you’re coping. You don’t need to worry about putting on a brave face or feeling judged. You can be angry, upset, happy, or not know how you feel. And you’ll be surrounded by those who can help you understand why you feel that way.
It can help you feel connected to others
Grief can feel really isolating, especially if no one around you has experienced what you’re going through. You might find it harder to relate to your friends and their lives, and it can lead you to withdraw from your usual social circles.
It’s one of the reasons why grief support groups can feel so important to those who join or attend. They bring people with shared experiences together, at a time when it can be so difficult to find any meaningful connections.
You can learn from others
Grief support groups are more than just a space for you to talk. They’re a space for you to listen too.
Depending on the type of group you join, you may be able to hear from people who are grieving the same relationship as you, such as your partner or your friend. Or you may be able to hear from people who have gone through similar situations, such as caring for someone who was terminally ill or having to cope with a sudden death.
It can be difficult and emotional to listen to others talk about their bereavement, but you might find that their words can help you to better make sense of your own grief journey too.
It can become part of your routine
While some grief support groups can be accessed online throughout the day, others are run as sessions at specific times during the week or month. Deciding to attend one of those sessions, either in person or virtually, can help to bring some structure back into your life - particularly if you’re struggling to stick to a routine.
How can I join a grief support group?
If you would like to try and join a grief support group, a good first step is to consider whether you’d prefer an in-person or online group.
Here at Sue Ryder, we know how important it is to feel like you have a safe and supportive place to talk about your bereavement. That’s why we have set up our Grief Kind Spaces across the country, giving people who are bereaved access to informal, in-person, peer-to-peer support at weekly or fortnightly sessions. We’ve got more information about what to expect if you join a group, as well as a map for you to find your local Grief Kind Space.
Depending on where you live, you may also be able to attend or join support groups run by other individuals or organisations. You could try speaking to your GP to find out what they recommend, or you could search your local area using The Good Grief Trust or Hub of Hope postcode map.
Some organisations also run meet-ups for specific groups of people, such as young people who are grieving. This includes Let’s talk about loss and The Grief Network, but you may be able to find others through social media or online.
At Sue Ryder, we also have an Online Bereavement Community for people who are bereaved to talk honestly about their grief. It’s a safe space that is available 24/7, at any time of the day or night, and it’s free to use for anyone over the age of 18. You don’t have to sign up to read what others are saying, but you will need an account if you’d like to share your own experiences.
If you’d prefer to attend sessions where you can still speak to others face-to-face, but from the comfort of your own home, you may want to try attending a grief support group virtually.
For example, The New Normal offers peer-to-peer support over Zoom for a range of grief experiences, while some local support groups may offer virtual services too.
How Sue Ryder can support you
Coping with your grief can be really difficult, but we want you to know we’re here for you.
As well as our Online Community and Grief Kind Spaces, we also offer a range of bereavement support - including our Online Bereavement Counselling Service and Grief Guide, a site dedicated to helping you find new ways to understand and cope with your grief.