Sunday, August 29, 2010

Finding a Good Support Group

Finding a good support group to tell your story in your time of need can be very helpful during your grief journey and beyond.

There are many different groups out there to help those who have lost a child. The Compassionate Friends has over 600 chapters in most states and probably one near you. They also have sibling groups and grandparent groups. Bereaved Parents USA doesn’t have as many chapters, but by going to their website, you can find out if there are any nearby. If you want a specific support group like AIDS, SIDDS, Stillbirth and cancer groups, these too, are available. Check with hospice, hospitals or funeral homes for additional information.

In any of these groups, you are able to share your story in a non-threatening, safe atmosphere, and you will eventually find healing. Don’t try to confront your grief alone. Reach out to others. As the Compassionate Friends credo says, “You Need Not Walk Alone.”

According to Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D and professional grief counselor, one should look for healthy support groups with the following characteristics:

*group members acknowledge that each person’s grief is unique.
*group members understand that grief is not a disease, but a normal process without a specific timetable. Everyone grieves at their own pace.
*group members feel free to talk in a group setting, but it is okay if they just prefer to listen.
*group members respect each other’s right to confidentiality. The feelings expressed are not made public.
*each group member is allowed equal time to speak; others should not monopolize the entire time nor interrupt when others are speaking.
*group members should not give advice unless it is asked for.
*group members recognize that thoughts and feelings are neither right nor wrong. They listen with empathy to others without trying to change them.

If you can find a group with this type of support, the healing process has begun.

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