What Are Bereavement Groups?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Bereavement groups may be helpful to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Bereavement groups may be helpful to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

Bereavement groups, also known as grief support groups, provide support, education, and therapy to individuals and families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The structure of grief support groups can vary significantly, as can their focus. Some are led by mental health professionals, others operate on a self-help basis, and some are led by religious leaders. In some cases, a group may focus on meeting the needs of people who have experienced a recent loss, while others may be composed of people who have been coping with their loss for many years. Groups may also focus on specific types of bereavement, with some groups offering support to parents, spouses, and even pet owners.

Bereavement groups may be facilitated by religious leaders.
Bereavement groups may be facilitated by religious leaders.

For many people, coping with the death of a beloved friend, family member, or animal companion is a frightening and lonely journey. Bereavement groups can provide the grieving with a safe space to talk about their experiences and receive support and guidance from others who have gone through a similar experience. While some groups operate primarily as peer support, in some cases licensed mental health workers facilitate groups that operate more as group therapy. As death and life after death are issues often addressed by religious and spiritual beliefs, some groups meet in houses of worship and may be facilitated by clergy or religious leaders.

For many people, coping with the death of a beloved companion is a frightening and lonely journey.
For many people, coping with the death of a beloved companion is a frightening and lonely journey.

In many cases, bereavement groups are segregated according to the nature of the loss experienced by participants and by the length of time a participant has been grieving. This type of segregation often occurs because some types of bereavement are unique, and individuals who are grieving may feel most comfortable expressing feelings with others who are grieving a very similar loss. As time passes, people frequently go through various stages of bereavement and may feel very differently after several months or years than in the initial stages of grief. As such, some organizations that sponsor bereavement groups may offer separate meetings for people who experienced a loss that took place some time ago and for those who are newly bereaved.

In some cases, bereavement and grief therapy is part of a broader treatment plan.
In some cases, bereavement and grief therapy is part of a broader treatment plan.

Some groups exist to serve friends and family members of the dying. These are often sponsored by hospice services and can help individuals make the most of their time left with a loved one and express their feelings and fears. These groups can also operate as transitional groups, meeting the needs of family members and offering consistent support, even after their loved one passes.

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    • Bereavement groups may be helpful to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
      By: tomas del amo
      Bereavement groups may be helpful to people who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
    • Bereavement groups may be facilitated by religious leaders.
      By: georgemuresan
      Bereavement groups may be facilitated by religious leaders.
    • For many people, coping with the death of a beloved companion is a frightening and lonely journey.
      By: Antonio Gravante
      For many people, coping with the death of a beloved companion is a frightening and lonely journey.
    • In some cases, bereavement and grief therapy is part of a broader treatment plan.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      In some cases, bereavement and grief therapy is part of a broader treatment plan.
    • People who are coping with grief can experience isolation and guilt that may be helped by a bereavement support group.
      By: ivolodina
      People who are coping with grief can experience isolation and guilt that may be helped by a bereavement support group.
    • Bereavement after the death of a loved one can take a significant time to process.
      By: michaeljung
      Bereavement after the death of a loved one can take a significant time to process.
    • Every individual grieves differently and for different lengths of time.
      By: auremar
      Every individual grieves differently and for different lengths of time.
    • Churches often organize bereavement groups which focus on uplifting Bible passages.
      By: manaemedia
      Churches often organize bereavement groups which focus on uplifting Bible passages.
    • Bereavement groups can help people get over the loss of a loved one.
      By: giideon
      Bereavement groups can help people get over the loss of a loved one.