Online grief support groups can make it easier to access the support you'll need after losing a child. There's an unlimited variety of support groups online that can help you cope with your grief and sorrow. They offer everything from online chat forums to public meet up opportunities for members to get to know each other in real life.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Popular Online Grief Support Groups for Parents Who Have Lost a Child
- Quick Tips for Finding the Best Grief Support Group
- How to Find an In-Person Grief Support Group Near You
- What Happens During a Grief Support Group for Bereaved Parents?
It might sound intimidating to know where to start your search for the right fit. There are so many different groups to choose from, so we've done some of the legwork for you in researching some of the best and most popular online support groups to help you get started.
Popular Online Grief Support Groups for Parents Who Have Lost a Child
Where do you find grief support groups for parents who have lost a child?
Fortunately, many reputable online sources provide grief support for bereaved parents after a child’s death. The latest online grief support groups offering support for parents are listed below in no particular order. These resources can also help you connect with online therapists or counselors.
Grieving.com is one of the longest-running grief support groups available online. They've been around since 1977, helping thousands of families throughout the world. They have a proven track record of helping families who've lost a loved one connect with others who are facing the same or similar type of loss. Their online support options include discussion forums with a wide range of topics as well as particular groups that focus directly on specific issues facing bereaved parents.
This site is moderated, and anyone can post online at any time of day or night. There’s no requirement to join. However, nonmembers can only access a limited number of content pages before being asked to sign up. Some of the membership perks include direct and private messaging between members and a marketplace where you can purchase products and services related to your grief journey. There’s no cost of membership, and the continuity of this service relies strictly on the generosity of its donors.
The Compassionate Friends is an online support group that helps people who’ve suffered the death of a child or children at any age. Its core mission is to help bereaved parents and their families coping with such loss find a place of comfort and support as they navigate their grief.
The Compassionate Friends operates as a registered charity and is free for people who need help. Some of their online resources include Facebook groups, scheduled online events, community forums, and an online helpline chat. All of the services offered are at no cost to you. Specially trained volunteers run the online chats, forums, and helplines and are available free of charge to anyone needing these services.
Bereaved Parents of the USA is a long-running grief support group connecting newly bereaved parents with online grief resources. This group is a non-profit organization founded by a group of bereaved parents to support others who’ve suffered a child's death. Different chapters of this organization aim to provide grief-related resources to those needing help through their grief.
Here parents can connect, share stories, and learn how to cope with loss from others in the community who face similar losses. This group's strength lies in its members and organizers’ makeup, who all have experienced the death of a child. There’s never a fee to join or to get the help that you need.
Grieving Parents is a place online where bereaved parents can join a community of other parents who have experienced a child’s loss. The online resources that Grieving Parents provides include written material to help the bereaved parent understand their grief and loss. Here, they can learn what grief is and what it feels like to process it healthily while keeping relationships intact.
Grieving Parents also offers online grief support groups and chats, access to grief therapists and counselors, and access to other members for more direct communication between grieving parents. There are plenty of free resources available. However, guests must pay for some of the materials or counseling offered through this site.
Gerard’s House is both a physical location and a place online where you can find written resources dealing with an adult child’s death. They have written resources to help you cope with an adult child’s death and deal with the specific issues stemming from this type of loss.
The founders of Gerard’s House offer support by telephone, in-person and online through the written material they put out. Its mission is to help children, teens, and parents who’ve suffered the loss of an adult child, learn to cope with their loss and heal from their pain.
Forever Family Foundation is a unique group free of charge to anyone interested in becoming a member. Their mission and focus is bridging science with the possibility of an afterlife.
The foundation offers opportunities to explore research into life after death, continue bonds with loved ones after they’ve died, and understand life’s potential after death. The online grief support services offered are based on extensive research of the afterlife and include access to mediums, podcasts, blogs, and online support groups.
Grieving parents will be able to find many of the grief support organizations on Facebook. Facebook hosts thousands of grief-related support groups and discussion forums. Some have moderators to curtail cyberbullying and the exploitation of people when they're at their most vulnerable. Facebook groups function like virtual support groups where you can talk with other parents who've lost a child so that you can share in your experiences.
To join, you'll have to contact the moderator for each of the support groups you're interested in and ask them to accept you as a member. Usually, you'll have to answer a short questionnaire to determine if there’s a mutual fit. These groups are private and typically free to join.
Quick Tips for Finding the Best Grief Support Group
Finding the best fit for you in any available support group may take some time. Once you settle on a few, narrow your choices down to a handful. It may take some time for you to give them all a trial run. Not every group will be the right fit for you. It would help if you considered taking the time to introduce yourself to several before settling on any particular one.
Choosing the right support group comes down to what type of support you’re looking for. With these types of support groups, you’ll either get groups with active participation by its members or plenty of general information on death and bereavement. You can consider both as you do your search as they both can be invaluable sources for a bereaved parent.
Things to look for in online grief support groups are:
One of the most important things to look for in any bereavement support group is that they have a current and active community. Look for the most recent postings related to your type of loss to gauge whether the online community is engaged in those areas that matter most to you.
You may find that some online communities have been around for years but are left mainly unmoderated and unattended. For you to gain the most out of your membership and participation, you’ll need an active group that actively supports its members.
Those that offer a variety of perspectives
When shopping around online for the right support group for you, look for one with lots of members so that you get exposure to different perspectives on love and loss. Gaining access to varied experiences will give you valuable insight from others who have faced a similar loss as yours.
However, it’s not very helpful to look for only those who have the same ideas on losing a child. In the best circumstances, you may get stuck together in your grief instead of helping each other move through the pain of your loss. Which as it turns out, is not very helpful to your healing and coping.
Groups that have many different forums
Look for support groups that offer a variety of grief forums on different topics related to your loss.
Offering support for different types of losses is a good indicator that you'll be able to connect with others who can relate to the specific issues you're facing following your loss. As you conduct your search, delve deeper into the forums and sub-forums to see if you find one that resonates with you.
How to Find an In-Person Grief Support Group Near You
Healing from grief is an individual journey. Some people react better when they participate in in-person healing sessions through local support groups. Others might have difficulty overcoming feelings of loneliness and may need a little extra help to feel more at ease with their emotions. For individuals feeling a bit lonely and helpless, in-person support groups are sometimes the best answer.
Unfortunately, finding one in today's climate is a bit challenging as not every community resource is back up and running with the evolution of the pandemic. Many support groups have not yet regrouped. That said, here are some places you can immediately start looking.
Hospice Foundation of America (HFA)
Although HFA is mainly a web-based information source for individuals seeking answers to hospice-related care and resources, it provides you with a list of local resources that can match you to an in-person group near you. You’ll notice many of the groups listed above on their list of referrals.
A quick phone call to some or all of these resources can potentially match you with an in-person support group in your area. Most grief support groups are free to attend, even in live settings. The organization may ask for a small donation or for you to bring a refreshment to offset the cost of the meeting space and moderator's time.
Meetup is a free online resource where you can meet others with similar interests, find things to do, and join support groups through online and in-person events. Most meetings are planned well in advance, allowing you to decide which group is best for you. Meetup is an online platform for finding and building local communities that cater to individuals of all interests and backgrounds. You don't need to pay to sign up to use the website, but particular groups may ask you to pay to participate or to become a member.
Your local funeral home
Funeral homes are a great resource for getting paired up with local grief support groups. Funeral directors generally have access to the community's business associations and the Chamber of Commerce, where many small businesses and individuals network.
Funeral homes are not only in the business of death and dying, as they'll usually also have the most current information on support and other groups within the communities they serve. Don't be afraid or nervous about approaching the funeral home staff for some recommendations.
Your community’s hospital
Your community hospital will generally have grief support services available through the hospital chaplaincy and volunteer grief support specialists on hand. Most hospitals provide spiritual care and grief support services to community members free of charge. The hospital chaplains specifically train grief support service specialists and pastoral care volunteers to listen to your concerns with empathy, answer your questions, and offer you hope and encouragement through your grief.
Volunteers of different faiths and spiritual backgrounds work on an as-needed basis to meet your individual needs. To find out more information about the services your hospital provides, all you need to do is dial the hospital's mainline and ask to connect to the chaplain's office.
What Happens During a Grief Support Group for Bereaved Parents?
Seeking grief and bereavement support may seem intimidating at first while you're still trying to accept or make sense of your loss. Individuals who've experienced similar losses as yours or can relate to your type of loss through their education or background typically make up the members of your chosen grief support group.
The most challenging part of your participation in a bereavement support group will most likely be finding the right one for you and taking the initial steps in registering and attending your first meeting.
You can expect everyone there to have suffered a loss similar to yours or who can empathize with you while offering you hope and support through your grief journey. Grief is a unique experience. So, although someone else in the group might have suffered the same type of loss, their grief journey will be very different from yours.
At best, you'll be able to share survival stories and tips to get through some of the most profound sorrow you'll ever face. Try not to compare or judge your grief against other's journeys.
An experienced grief support group moderator will ensure that everyone present feels welcomed and at ease. The setting is typically one where everyone sits in a circle to see, hear, and interact with one another without leaving anyone out.
Other group members won't expect you to participate at every meeting, but it does help you process your grief when you actively share your pain and sorrow with others. Some groups are more structured than others. Each meeting format will depend on the group's weekly or monthly planned schedule for each time you meet.
For ultimate healing benefit, consider attending certain groups or meetings alone. Even when your family or other household members are suffering from the same loss, opening up and sharing intimate feelings of grief and sorrow may be more challenging in the presence of those who intimately know you.
There are several grief support groups available to meet individual needs. Try going to one group on your own while attending other groups with your loved ones. Everyone deserves privacy and respect in their grief journey, even young children and teens.
Overall, your grief support group should have a start date and an end date. Some groups will offer more structure than others. While some groups prefer to open up each meeting's conversation with current thoughts, those who plan their meetings typically have better results you can measure at the end of the sessions.
Bereaved Parents Support Groups
If you’ve suffered the death of your child and find yourself needing help, there are endless online grief support groups available to support you. There's no shame in needing help in coping with your grief. The right support group will help you in dealing with your new role as a bereaved parent.