Ten Beliefs that Make Grief Support Groups Work

backlit dawn foggy friendship In order to make a grief support group successful, first the group's facilitators must be sold on the fact that mourners can heal when given comfort, support, encouragement and time.  Then second facilitators must be able to sell group participants on the belief that finding hope and healing in  grief is possible.

In order to be effective a grief support group facilitator should believe the following principles:

  • A person in grief does not have an illness or mental/emotional disorder that needs to be diagnosed and cured.
  • Grief is a natural internal response to the loss of someone significant in our life.
  • Mourning is the outward behavior that is our response to the grief inside us. Grief is a process, a journey, not a one-time event.
  • Mourners have the innate ability to work through the pain of grief and move toward healing.
  • The work of grief is facilitated when the mourner is given comfort, support, encouragement, time and emotional space to grieve by those around them.
  • Favorable life circumstances and loving support can help move the process along.
  • Mourners can benefit from being with a peer group which has suffered similar emotions and experiences in loss.
  • Mourners will often talk through or work through their concerns and fears if provided a safe, confidential, caring environment.
  • Providing a family systems approach to grief support can be essential to the emotional healing of both grieving adults and children.
  • A person’s feeling on the grief journey are their feelings. It isn’t up to us to talk them out of their feelings or to try to change the way they are feeling.

Posted by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise”  available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Christianbook.com.

The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on Amazon.com.

Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX  http://grief-works.org.