A Guide to Grief Support Resources

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is one of the most challenging and difficult situations that a person will face in their lifetime. Many complicated emotions may arise, and the pain associated with such a loss can be overwhelming. Thankfully, grief support resources are available that can help you cope in ways that are healthy and manageable.

How Grief Affects People Throughout Their Lives

Grief is a natural process for responding to a significant loss, but this process looks different for everyone who experiences it.

Everyone is likely to experience grief at different points in life, and many of us will experience periods of grief more than once.

People may experience grief throughout many stages of life:

  • Young adults and adolescents may experience grief from situations like bullying or the loss of a parent or grandparent.
  • Adults may experience grief from events like the loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of a spouse or parent.
  • Older adults may experience grief from losing friends to illness, experiencing physical or mental changes associated with aging, or even as they face the end of their own lives.
  • Caregivers of any age can experience grief when the person they are caring for dies, especially if that person is their family member.

The Process of Healing From Grief

It’s important to remember that everyone grieves in their own way. However, despite how unique the grieving process is for each individual, there are usually certain patterns in grief that people go through.

Two models that show how people grieve include:

  1. Dual Process Model: According to this model, people move back and forth between loss-oriented coping (things dealing with grief) and restoration-oriented coping (things that focus on rebuilding your life).
  2. Wordens Tasks of Mourning: This model describes how a person accepts the reality of their loss, processes the pain of their grief, adjusts to their new reality, and finds a way to remember their loved one when moving forward.

These tasks are not always completed in order and may be revisited many times throughout the grieving process.

Types of Grief

There are also several types of grief people may experience.

Every type of grief is unique in its onset and impact:

  • Abrupt grief comes on suddenly, such as after the unexpected death of a loved one or the sudden loss of a job.
  • Absent grief occurs when a person becomes numb to a loss or acts and thinks about it in a dissociated way.
  • Anticipatory grief is experienced before an expected loss, such as when a loved one is terminally ill but has not yet passed away.
  • Collective grief is experienced by a group of people over a single or shared loss.
  • Complicated grief, also known as prolonged grief, carries into the long-term future and can significantly impact daily life and functioning.
  • Delayed grief develops gradually over time as a person accepts the reality of their loss.

No matter the type of grief a person is experiencing, recognizing the signs and getting grief support when needed is crucial, as a person’s grief can interfere with their everyday activities.

Signs and symptoms of grief include:

  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Difficulty taking care of responsibilities and obligations

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms after a loss, consider getting help from a mental health professional.

Grief Counseling Options

It’s not always possible to erase a person’s grief completely, but there are different types of counseling that can help people process their grief and heal in ways that are manageable.

Grief Counseling

Grief counseling is a specific type of therapy designed to help people who are dealing with a significant loss in their life, such as the death of a loved one.

This type of counseling can guide people through grief and teach them healthy and safe coping mechanisms.

Bereavement Therapy

Bereavement therapy is very similar to grief counseling and comes in multiple formats, including individual, family, and group therapy sessions.

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) and behavioral therapy are just two of the many approaches that can be incorporated into bereavement therapy, which lasts as long as a patient needs.

A doctor or psychiatrist may prescribe antidepressant medications to help patients who are also experiencing depression or anxiety in addition to or as a result of their grief.

Online Support for People Coping With Grief

There are many grief support resources that people can access over the internet to help them deal with their feelings of sadness and loss.

These support options are often more convenient and accessible, as they allow people around the country to get help from the comfort of their homes.

Online grief resources include:

  • Grief.com: This site offers free resources to people living with grief, including an online directory of therapists and grief counselors.
  • Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Community: This website offers forums to help with grief management. Members can ask questions, seek advice, and share their own stories.
  • GriefinCommon.com: This site offers support for those experiencing all types of loss via online support groups and one-on-one sessions.

6 Tips for Providing a Loved One With Grief Help

When a loved one is coping with grief, you may be able to help provide them with the support they need. Keep in mind that everyone deals with grief differently, so you may need to adjust your approach depending on your loved one’s behaviors and reactions.

Here are 6 tips for helping a loved one cope with grief:

  1. Do not avoid them, as this can make them feel hurt and insecure about how they are processing their grief.
  2. Listen to them without judgment and allow them to fully express their feelings.
  3. Try to keep a positive outlook, but do not shut out or ignore the negative aspects of their loss.
  4. Help them with errands, housework, meal preparation, cleaning, or any basic activities they are having trouble managing.
  5. Encourage them to talk about their feelings and honor their loved one as much as they want to.
  6. Don’t wait to hear from them before you reach out, and be sure to check in on them regularly.

Grief Support Resources for All Types of Loss

While there are many grief support resources available to help those who have suffered a loss, it can be beneficial to find support that is more specific to you as a person and the type of loss you’ve experienced.

There are many grief support resources tailored to different situations.

Loss of a Child

The death of a child is something that every parent fears and that no parent should ever have to go through.

When a child dies, it truly affects all who knew them. Those who find themselves in this position will likely need immense support from the people around them.

Resources for the loss of a child include:

  • Bereaved Parents of the USA: In addition to providing access to local grief support groups for parents and families, this organization also offers resources to those who have lost siblings and to grandparents who have lost grandchildren.
  • Just Enduring: This nonprofit group offers a variety of resources for parents, friends and family members, and caregivers. It includes a one-on-one mentorship program that connects grieving parents to others who have experienced this type of loss.
  • The Compassionate Friends: This organization offers more than 600 chapters across all 50 states and includes both online and in-person support groups for parents, grandparents, and siblings.

Loss of an Elderly Loved One

One of the most common losses that people will face in their lives is that of elderly loved ones, such as grandparents or their own parents.

Resources for people who have lost an elderly loved one include:

  • HealGrief: This organization offers one-on-one support services, online group support, and an app to help connect grieving individuals to others based on their age and the type of grief they are experiencing.
  • Hospice care: Grief and bereavement counseling is often offered to family members who have a loved one receiving hospice or palliative care.
  • Local organizations: You may also be able to find grief counseling through a local church, synagogue, or hospital.

Men Facing a Loss

While the grief resources for men who have experienced a loss are somewhat limited, there are options available for those seeking support.

For example, Men’s Grief Network, as an extension of the National Widowers’ Organization, offers support and resources to men who are experiencing any type of significant loss in their lives.

You may also be able to find local support groups for men near you by searching online.

Women Facing a Loss

Because men and women tend to process grief differently, it can be beneficial for women to have their own separate support resources.

Resources for women facing a loss include:

  • Lifeway Women: This organization assists women who are experiencing grief through an approach that is both spiritual and supportive.
  • March of Dimes: This organization provides many services, one of which is to provide resources and support to women who have experienced a miscarriage or any type of pregnancy loss. They also provide resources to help when a child is born with a birth injury.
  • Sacred Sorrows: This support organization was created specifically to help grieving mothers and grandmothers after the loss of a child or grandchild. It offers a variety of services and in-person retreat options.

Caregivers Facing Loss

Caregivers can face extra challenges when dealing with loss, as they are trying to cope with the loss themselves while guiding others through their own experience.

Grief support resources for caregivers:

  • American Association of Retired Persons (AARP): This organization has resources for both seniors and their caregivers, including information for family caregivers who are experiencing grief.
  • Courage to Caregivers: In addition to providing educational resources to caregivers, this nonprofit organization also offers one-on-one caregiver peer support, group coaching support groups, and breathing meditation classes.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: This organization provides a variety of resources to caregivers, including educational resources on how to cope with loss.

Grieving Veterans

It is not uncommon for veterans to experience grief, especially after having lost friends or other loved ones during their service or after returning to civilian life.

Many of the resources available to veterans for grief also focus on suicide loss and suicide prevention.

Grief support resources for veterans include:

  • Military One Source: This organization offers short-term nonmedical counseling to service members, veterans, their family members, and surviving loved ones for a variety of situations.
  • VA Bereavement Counseling: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers bereavement counseling services to veterans or their eligible surviving family members at their Vet Centers located across the U.S.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: This 24/7 free and confidential grief hotline is open to veterans and their loved ones any time they are in crisis or experiencing emotional distress.

Widows and Widowers

The loss of a spouse is a devastating experience, no matter how far along into the marriage journey the loss takes place.

Grief support resources for widows and widowers include:

  • Hope for Widows Foundation: In addition to providing grief support workshops and support groups to widows, this foundation also provides financial support to widows through grants and donations.
  • National Widowers’ Organization: This organization provides valuable information to widowers, connects them to online or in-person grief support groups, and even guides them through creating their own support group.
  • Walk With a Widow: This organization provides resources and support to both widows and their friends and family members and takes a spiritual approach to healing from loss.

Abuse Victims

Abuse comes in many forms and can happen to anyone at any age. Abuse victims often go through a grieving process, and need support and resources to heal from their trauma.

Organizations that provide grief support resources for abuse victims include:

  • ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline: ChildHelp and their corresponding helpline is available to help children who have been abused or anyone who knows a child who is being abused. There are ChildHelp chapters in all 50 states.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: This organization and hotline can provide resources, assistance, and guidance to victims of domestic violence, with representatives available 24/7 by phone, text, or online chat.
  • Safe Horizon: This organization provides resources and support to victims of all types of abuse, including sexual abuse, child abuse, stalking, human trafficking, and youth homelessness.

Sexual Violence Survivors

Sexual violence can also result in grief, as a survivor may grieve the loss of their identity or sense of self in addition to a loss of innocence or sense of safety they once had.

Grief support resources for sexual violence survivors include:

Podcasts on How to Deal With Grief

Podcasts can be a great resource for people who are experiencing grief. They are usually free and easy to access on the go.

Podcasts on grief include:

  • Grief Out Loud: This podcast is produced by The Dougy Center and brings a mixture of personal grief stories along with interviews with mental health and bereavement professionals.
  • This Too Shall Suck Podcast, A Fresh Perspective on Grief: This podcast is aimed at millennials and provides a safe place where all aspects of grief can be talked about.
  • What’s Your Grief Podcast: Hosted by a group of mental health care professionals, this podcast aims to tackle all aspects of grief and grief education, no matter how complicated, confusing, or messy.

Tip: Books can also provide grief support as they can tell someone’s story about dealing with loss or provide tips on grief management. You can search the internet for books on grief or look for titles at your local library.

No one who is experiencing the deep and complicated loss of a loved one should have to go through it without support.

If you or someone you love is dealing with grief, know that there are an abundance of loss resources available to help you navigate this difficult and challenging time.

Comfort for the Grieving FAQs

How do I find grief support groups near me?

You may be able to find grief support groups in your area through local organizations like religious institutions, hospitals, hospice care, and funeral homes.

You can also search the internet for national grief support organizations. Some may have chapters near you that host in-person support groups.

What types of support are available for grief?

There are several types of support that can help people dealing with grief. Grief counseling and grief therapy in an individual or group setting can help people manage grief related to a loss.

In-person or virtual support groups can also be healing, as they allow participants to hear how others have dealt with grief and share their own feelings about a loss.

What is the meaning of grief support?

Although grief support comes in many forms, like therapy or a support group, it has one primary goal — helping people accept a loss and prepare for life moving forward.

Who can help me with my grief?

If you’re struggling with grief, reach out to a therapist who offers grief counseling or contact a local religious institution or hospital and ask if they have any programs for those dealing with grief.

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  1. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “Grief, Loss and End of Life.” Retrieved from: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/grief-loss-end-of-life/. Accessed on September 20, 2023. 
  2. Cleveland Clinic. “The 5 Stages of Grief After a Loss.” Retrieved from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-stages-of-grief/. Accessed on September 20, 2023. 
  3. Mayo Clinic. “Complicated grief.” Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/complicated-grief/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360389. Accessed on September 20, 2023. 
  4. Time. “21 Ways to Help Someone You Love Through Grief.” Retrieved from: https://time.com/5118994/advice-for-helping-grieving-friend/. Accessed on September 20, 2023. 
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