Joining a grief support group can seem like a big step.  Grief brings on a lot of intense feelings at times, and you may wonder if opening yourself up to those feelings and focusing on them is something you want or can manage.

It may also feel risky to expose your vulnerable self to participants in a group, with all the different ways you may express your emotions and the various responses you may get from others.  Such concerns are a normal part of the group experience.  What we find, though, is that people are often grateful for a group, for the chance to share and feel they are not alone, for the moments of affirmation and insight, for the safe environment provided by gentle counselors.  The big step of trying out a group can be a rewarding and transformative one.

Like other grieving individuals, you may wonder if a group is for you. You will need to make the decision that seems best for yourself, but our counselors are also available to speak with you about this, if it would help to clarify your thoughts and feelings. We often hear concerns like the following, which people give as reasons for trying a group.

“I feel out of step with people around me.”

Each one of us grieves differently according to the unique circumstances around a relationship to a loved one.  There can be difficult and awkward moments as we try to talk with friends, co-workers, or even family members about what we are feeling.  We may get the sense that people around us have moved on to other things and do not want to hear what is still so real for us in our grief.  It can leave us feeling alone, out of step and in need of support.

“I’m feeling so isolated with my grief during this pandemic.

Grief can be challenging even in the best of times, but the intense period of upheaval and distancing we are going through as a society has left many people feeling increasingly isolated.  The familiarity and safety of our own homes can feel like a barrier to our connections with others.  Safety distancing measures make it difficult to hear a voice, see a supportive face and share a friendly conversation.  For the time being, all our groups are conducted online, and we are finding that it provides an opportunity to be seen and heard, to share your story and be moved by the stories of others in moments of mutual support.

“Is what I am feeling normal?”

Grief can be a lot of ups and downs as we experience intense emotions at times.  People find that they may have a “meltdown moment,” where they feel flooded with feelings at an unexpected or embarrassing time.  As grievers, we may swing back and forth between being okay one minute and bursting into tears the next.  We might feel empty and wonder why we are not crying like we think we should.  A range of feelings and actions can leave us wondering if there is a normal to grief and how we might compare with the grief of others.

“How do I cope with this?”

Because the emotions around grief can feel intense and overwhelming at times, people can be uncertain about how they will manage them and get through it all.  An enduring sense of sadness or feeling at a loss for the future can leave the grieving person wondering how to cope for the long term.  Encouragement and insights for handling the challenges of grief seem needed.

Our bereavement counselors are glad to speak with you about your concerns and about the kinds of groups we offer.  When you attend a group, you will find two of our counselors facilitating each session.  Each counselor has a professional degree and seasoned experience in working with grief groups.  We emphasize a safe, accepting environment where all thoughts and feelings are welcome.  We offer a gentle touch where participants are invited to share the things they are comfortable sharing.  We also offer an understanding perspective which enables us to provide supportive words at different moments.  But the most rewarding part of the group experience is what you will share and receive from other participants.  A kind of chemistry often happens between people in groups which make them both rewarding and invaluable.  Not every grieving person will feel the need to participate in a group, but for those who consider it, we invite you to think about your needs and the possibilities for yourself.  Our groups provide a place of gentle support and healing along the way for those walking the grief journey.

We have several upcoming summer grief workshops (usually one-session), and 6-week groups in the fall. Visit our page on grief support groups and workshops to learn more about upcoming programs and registration.

Kip Ingram, 2021
Director of Bereavement Care
Montgomery Hospice and Prince George’s Hospice