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Grief Support Groups: Positives and Pitfalls

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Since 1979, HOPE Connection, a Los Angeles Grief Support Group, has helped individuals grieve and heal.

When a person’s loved one dies, reality quickly sets in. This is a permanent change, and the process of grieving has only begun. People often approach the person at this stage and offer some advice: “You should check out a grief support group.”

But are grief support groups for everyone? Are all grief support groups alike? 
The answer, says Eleanor and Litsa, in their blog What’s Your Grief, depends on several factors. Grief support groups are generally extremely beneficial for a variety of reasons, including the fact that “people in the acute phase of grief have contact with those who are much further along in their healing… Group members who are doing well and finding new ways to heal can provide hope to those who are new to grief and show that it’s possible to feel joy again (among other things).”

But Eleanor and Litsa also question why some people may not find a group to be beneficial. The answer is, quite simply, that all groups are not alike. Groups vary in:

  • Attitude and culture
  • Structure
  • Led by a peer vs. mental health professional
  • Attendance is good vs. spotty
  • Members are consistent vs. changing
  • Focused on specific loss vs. general
  • Focused on advocacy and action vs. grief experience

To read the entire article on the What’s Your Grief blog, see Grief Support Groups: Positives and Pitfalls. It gives an excellent overview of the dynamics of group interaction.

By Jo Christner, Psy.D.