Participation in a bereavement group doesn't create a blanket effect on grieving for everyone. People grieve uniquely. But when they decide to join a grief support group, it's usually one of the first public steps taken on their road to healing.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Are Grief Group Activities?
- Grief Group Activity Ideas for Adults
- Grief Group Activity Ideas for Teenagers or High School Students
- Grief Group Activity Ideas for Children
Grief and loss groups allow grieving individuals to share in their grief journey with others and cope with loss. Talking about shared experiences has measurable effects on grief, depression, and anxiety.
Although most people will experience significant decreases following the first year of loss, grief support groups reduce the development of complicated grief for many. There's no actual timeline for when the grieving process ends.
Everyone experiences grief uniquely, and some people will naturally grieve for much longer than a year. Depending on an individual’s grief journey, they may be psychologically and emotionally ready to share their experiences with others.
What Are Grief Group Activities?
Grief group activities are designed with healing progress in mind. A person who takes part in group healing activities is likely ready to take their grief journey to the next level and share their experiences with others. Group activities provide a general sense of security and acceptance for grieving individuals.
Children and adults are more likely to want to participate in grief group activities rather than receive individual grief counseling or therapy. It’s more acceptable and less threatening for some to get help and support from their peers than from a professional. Many people will consider the stigma attached to mental health therapy when deciding the best course for them as they cope with their grief.
Grief Group Activity Ideas for Adults
Consider starting a grief support group if you've ever searched for the perfect way to share your grief experiences but don't know where to turn. The area where you live might not have many options for grieving individuals, or maybe the options aren't well-suited to a particular underrepresented group.
Libraries and community recreation centers are welcoming places to lead a grief group for adults. Grief and loss activities include participation in creative outlets, outdoor events, and charities, to name a few. Here are some ideas of activities to help get you started.
1. Group chanting and meditation
Getting in touch with your spirituality is one way of combating grief-related emotional pain and sorrow.
A spiritual practice can include chanting and meditation to help calm the mind when dealing with challenging situations, such as the death of a loved one. Group activities that include self-reflection can help people get in touch with their inner selves while exploring their grief.
2. Day excursion to a wading river
Water is said to be very healing when dealing with grief. Scheduling a time to visit a local river where the water is shallow enough to wade in helps cleanse the spirit when coping with grief.
The sounds of nature and the water flow are soothing and therapeutic for many people suffering from distress. You can plan a group picnic or fireside camping as activities to allow participants to get to know one another while allowing their grief to manifest.
3. Create a memorial mural
Memorial murals can be made of anything that's easily accessible to the group. A beautiful way to memorialize a loved one who's died is to personalize stones with painted pictures or affirmations.
Consider stacking them artistically to create a mural somewhere out in nature that group members can visit whenever they need to be alone. Everyone should have an opportunity to add their unique piece of grief art to the mural to form a connection to the group's sacred space.
4. Plant a memory garden
Planting a memory garden as a group activity helps people bond with one another. Sharing in their grief experience while planting seeds helps give meaning to their sorrow: it can yield a bounty for the local community to harvest. Community gardens are a great place to meet in a group.
Group members can meet once a week to tend to the fruits, herbs, and vegetables that provide nourishment to locals while at the same time nourishing their souls.
5. Volunteer for a charity
Working with your hands to create something that benefits someone else helps heal sorrow. Consider organizing a group of grieving volunteers to help build homes for charities such as Habitat for Humanity, distribute food at local food banks, or give talks to those residing in shelters. Grief is a universal experience that many people will go through as they live and experience loss.
Grief Group Activity Ideas for Teenagers or High School Students
Bereavement group interventions are widely used in schools across the nation to help students who’ve suffered a significant loss or another type of setback resulting in grief. Grief group activities are a great way to support grieving teenagers or high school students in general.
Children and young adults in this age group may need added support, especially when their support systems at home are lacking. The group activities listed below are widely used in grief group settings and are beneficial to many participants in better handling their grief.
6. Interview each other
There are many reasons why teenagers may shy away from sharing their grief experiences with their peers. Some of those reasons may be that they feel embarrassed and often isolated when dealing with grief-related feelings and emotions.
Many teenagers will feel the effects of their loss shortly after suffering the death of a loved one or another type of significant loss. Getting teenagers to open up about their grief may become more manageable if they ask each other pointed questions about their loss and how they’re coping.
7. Write letters
Writing goodbye letters to their deceased loved one allows teens and young adults to express what they didn’t get to say to their deceased loved one. This group exercise helps bring healing and closure.
When setting up this grief exercise, consider setting a time limit and handing out prompts to get the participants going on what to write in their letters or ideas on what to say. You can have a sending-away ceremony at the end of the activity where participants read their letters aloud and then either burn it or tuck it away in their memory box.
8. Build a memory box
Counseling teens through creating is a hands-on way to get them to process their grief.
Many teens don’t know how to express their pain and sorrow out loud. They may already suffer from other issues relating to being teenagers, and their grief only adds to their pain. Taking on a creative project helps some teens express their suffering by using their hands to make something that honors their deceased loved ones. They can build and then paint their boxes to hold memories of their loved ones.
9. Start a scrapbook
Scrapbooking is another creative approach to group grief therapy. Teens benefit from participating in a shared activity where everyone works side by side in selecting materials for their project.
Not only do they get the experience of working together, sharing the scrapbooking materials, but they also get the opportunity to share their stories as they build their memory book together. Afterward, they can take with them something they've created as a direct way of honoring their loved ones.
10. Write and recite eulogies
Whenever children and teens lose someone they love, they sometimes don't get a direct chance to participate in the funeral services.
During the ceremony, many won't ever get to talk about their loved ones and what they meant to them. Getting the chance to write and recite a personalized eulogy in front of their peers may help bring closure to each participant. This activity allows teens and young adults to express themselves in ways that they might not have had the chance to do so before.
Grief Group Activity Ideas for Children
Younger children may not understand the concept of grieving, but they do know that they're feeling sad due to someone close to them dying. For many, this is their first experience with grief, and they may not know how to express themselves or deal with the grief-elated emotions that follow after the death of a loved one.
Young children may also experience grieving in isolation because they're typically ignored as the adults deal with the loss while not considering that children also experience grief. Below are some grief group activities that are suitable for younger children.
11. Do arts and crafts
Exploring grief through art is an excellent way of introducing the grieving process to younger children. Group activities can include coloring in grief worksheets, drawing, and finger painting. There are many free grief resources you can find online that offer grief-related coloring sheets for you to print and share with the group.
12. Share stories
Grief and depression are normal emotions after the death of a loved one. Children are no exception to developing the signs and symptoms associated with grief.
Grieving individuals of any age benefit from shared experiences in a group setting. When you allow children to express themselves and encourage them to recount special memories and stories of their deceased loved one, it helps them healthily process their grief.
13. Create paper bag journals
Journaling is the art of sharing stories in writing. Children don’t have to share what’s in their journals unless they want to. Paper bag journals are a fun way to get creative with a group of youngsters who may need an additional outlet for their grief.
You’ll need a paper bag for the front and back covers, construction paper, and yarn to hold the book together. Allow children to have creative freedom while guiding and inspiring them with what to include in their journals.
Creative Group Grief Therapy
Some people can handle their grief on their own or with the support of their loved ones and social network. But others might need the support of a group whose experiences mirror their own in some way. Group grief activities are healing and help those bereaved find peace and comfort by sharing their pain with others.