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Short and Sweet Summary: Grief support groups won’t erase the crushing pain. But they will give you a place to validate your feelings and make your grief less isolating. Several grief support options for widows are available if you know where to look.
Grief support was a monumental part of our lives in the early weeks and months after my husband’s death. I’m fortunate to live in an area where I found several grief support options for widows including a local grief support group that provided family grief services, catering to children and teens.
More specifically, it was so important for my kids to interact with other kids their ages who also lost a parent.
We attended bi-monthly meetings for two years. It was a welcome respite from the isolating feelings of death and grief. Before we started to attend grief support everything seemed so bleak.
As a result, the dark clouds slowly started to lift as I learned we were definitely not alone.
Grief support groups won’t offer a magic wand to erase the crushing pain. But they will give you a place to validate your feelings and discover different coping mechanisms to deal with the devastation and finality of death. Sharing your grief journey with others walking a similar path can be a cathartic experience.
It’s not always easy to locate grief support options for widows and their families, so I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list for you. I came across these resources when I was looking for grief support. And I’m prepared toadd to the list as I continue to find newer options available.
Keep in mind, some of these options offer information on local groups while others also include online support groups.
If you’re looking to give yourself a break from loneliness, boredom and suffocating grief, maybe it’s time to surround yourself with people experiencing similar things.
Here’s the thing, I’m not a big proponent of holding everything inside. That’s a recipe for disaster.
So. Get out. Get to a group. And get to commiserating.
National Bereavement Resource Guide
Eluna is a public, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to provide comfort, hope, and healing to families affected by loss and addiction.
The whole website is chock-full of grief resources for all age ranges and issues. I am amazed at the breadth and depth of information available.
But the most valuable thing I found was the National Bereavement Resource Guide that compiles grief organizations by state and local resources.
Just click on your region/state and view a PDF of available grief organizations and grief camps right in your area.
Soaring Spirits International
What’s more, the whole website is a plethora of information for widows. So don’t just stop at the grief support options. Check out all of the widow resources and ways to get involved.
However, if you can’t find a regional grief support option, considering starting a chapter yourself!
Most hospices provide grief support groups and are even open to those who never used hospice services.
A quick Google search of “hospice near me” should point you in the right direction of a local hospice organization in your area.
For example, I found the Hospice of Michigan during a Google search and I clicked on the link for Patients and Loved Ones. The Grief Support link under the Services section listed a whole host of grief support groups offered in my area including one specific to those who like to crochet. I don’t crochet but I’d be glad to find a crochet grief support group if I did!
If you looked at the National Bereavement Resource Guide above, you’d likely see many hospice grief support options sprinkled in with other local resources.
Additionally, Hospice also offers newsletters, weekly affirmation emails and other ways to connect. It’s a terrific resource for all things grief related.
What most people know is that Easter Seals provides services to children and adults with disabilities or special needs.
What most people don’t know is their Mental Health services offer grief resources and referrals to services like cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, interpersonal therapy, and support groups.
Some Easter Seals locations, like the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic in Michigan, offer mental health services to people in crisis or who have experienced trauma, including children.
Don’t think their services are limited to people with disabilities. The Easter Seals contact I spoke to in Michigan said their services would be a good fit for widows and children who lost a parent.
If you’re having trouble finding suitable grief support and/or therapy options, contact your local Easter Seals to learn about all of the services and resources available to you regardless of ability to pay or insurance status.
Local Youth Assistance Groups
Many schools partner with local youth assistance groups to provide confidential, short-term, family-centered counseling and referral services for young people and their families.
Services typically offered by youth assistance groups include improving communication between parents and their children, understanding child development, and enhancing parenting skills. The referral services from a licensed social worker can help you figure out what program is best for your family.
These services can be beneficial to solo-parent widows who need a little extra help and support for kids with grief or non-grief related issues. Youth Assistant Programs offer many options for helping parents deal with children’s not-so-good behavior like substance abuse, truancy, or incorrigibility.
Specifically, reach out to your school district or specific county government office to learn more about youth assistance programs in your area.
Other Grief Support Options for Widows
Other places to consider finding grief support options would be:
I found a grief counselor through the local funeral home we used for my husband’s memorial services. I actually sought out her services before my husband died because I needed help figuring out how to tell our kids their dad was going to die. She was an invaluable resource with over 20 years of experience in death and dying who helped me specifically with what to say and do.
Undoubtedly, I’m sure your local funeral home has a wealth of information at the ready for you regarding grief resources. I mean, they’re in the death business. They are a good source of information.
Another great local resource is Meetup (www.meetup.com). You can search for ways to meet new people, find support and get out of your comfort zone. All right in your own community.
Search “grief support” or “widows” or whatever term you’re interested in finding and you’ll see what meetups are available in your area.
Keep in mind, grief support doesn’t have to be people sitting around a table talking. You might find a grief support group that takes hikes. Or likes to golf. Realistically, if you can’t find what you’re looking for you can always start your own meetup.
Grief support horseback riding, anyone?
Hospitals are a wealth of information for grief support groups. They provide resources to reach just about every age and/or type of loss imaginable because they are a huge part of every community.
While viewing a hospital website, search for resources under “spiritual support” or “support groups” or “grief support.” You’re sure to find a suitable group that fits your specific needs.
You don’t have to be a member of a church to attend a grief support group there. Many churches make rooms available to hold meetings for area groups and organizations but the meetings are non-denominational.
The local grief support group my kids and I attended was conducted in several rooms of a local Baptist church. But the meeting itself was not religiously based and had nothing to do with the Baptist church or its tenets.
Widow Wrap Up
I urge you to get out and seek the company of other grievers who can sympathize with you and who understand your current state of mind.
When you talk to other folks who have gone through similar pain, it makes your grief less isolating. You learn you’re not alone in your feelings or your situation. Someone somewhere has gone through something very similar to you.
I think it helps to seek out those people and assist each other through our hardest, darkest days.
What grief support groups did you participate in that helped the most? Please share in the comments!