Support groups are organized to help make the pain of loss more manageable.
(Mourning Light II, Tracy Renee Lee, FD)
As a funeral director who is concerned for those I help at the loss of loved ones, I find that there are three unique groups of mourners. The first group consists of survivors who want to explore support groups and find their association with them beneficial. The second group consists of survivors who find a support group is overwhelming and shy away from them. The third group consists of survivors who refuse to acknowledge that support groups exist and dismiss them as organizations for weak-minded people. Before deciding whether a support group is, or is not, right for you, it is important to understand what a support group’s role is and what they might, or might not be able to offer toward your recovery.
One’s expectations of recovery and assistance should be based on fact rather than assumption. It is also important to understand that some survivors benefit better in one on one scenarios rather than in groups. While support groups offer many profound and rewarding benefits to those who suffer loss, one must decide whether a group environment is suited for their particular needs.
Participation in a support group may counter the sense of isolation that many survivors experience. Modern society is fast paced and demanding. It often lacks support for those who mourn. In fact, due to this lack of support within society, many survivors feel shame that they are unable to “snap out of it” or “move on” as their friends and family might advise. A survivor’s support structure and society, in general, lean toward the avoidance of mourning altogether. This avoidance is impossible, as mourning is the recovery process from loss. Survivors, who fall into this concept, often find themselves in an unexpected and unsupported complicated situation as time “moves on.” Support group leaders are able to nullify this type of ill-advised movement and provide survivors with helpful approaches to overcome these pressures to “return to normal” from well-intentioned, albeit poorly informed, family and friends.
Participation in a support group provides emotional, physical, and spiritual support in a safe and nonjudgmental environment for the survivor. Grief counselors are trained to facilitate recovery; they understand the stages of recovery, and in their groups, provide an opportunity for survivors to support each other as they heal. Additionally, through exploration of their thoughts and feelings, grief counselors are able to assist survivors to develop compassion toward themselves. Inward compassion is of particular importance in cases of self-imposed guilt or where survivors have suffered a loss through suicide. These two cases encourage the development of self-loathing. Self-loathing often leads to pathological cases of depression and if left unchecked, can eventually perpetuate the infliction of self-wounding and eventual suicide.
Life for a survivor will never be as it once was. Participation in a support group, however, may help survivors once again trust their fellow beings in what they feel is an uncertain and uncaring world. It may assist them to wrangle and put to rest their feelings of aloneness and tendencies of isolation. If survivors properly manage and apply the skills presented and taught at a support group, they will find that the pain of loss has become more manageable and that they once again enjoy living.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.