Grief Workshops: What to Expect and How to Find One

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Many people associate loss and grief with the death of someone they love, but sorrow comes in many forms—from the tangible to the intangible. The death of a loved one will consistently rank at the top of grief-inducing experiences in life.

However, other significant or traumatic events can and do occur in many people's lives. These might include going through a difficult divorce, estrangement from friends and loved ones, or losing a house or career.

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Grief workshops help you gain the tools needed to overcome the pain and sorrow associated with losing someone or something close to you. Almost every grief workshop welcomes participants who've suffered through any traumatic loss.

However, highly specialized workshops exist to cater to individuals grieving certain types of losses. These workshops are more focused on the narrower scope of specific loss rather than the general.

What’s a Grief Workshop?

Grief workshops are a safe place for bereaved individuals to examine their sorrow resulting from loss. Generally, participation in workshops lasts anywhere from an entire day to several weeks, depending on the workshop's aim. These workshops effectively introduce a grieving person to what it means to grieve and the stages of grief they can expect to experience. 

Most workshops welcome anyone interested in the grieving process. Individuals interested in learning new coping skills and those interested in following a career path in grief counseling, pastoral care, end-of-life counseling, and other similar careers also benefit from participating in grief workshops to further their skill sets.

What’s the Difference Between a Grief Workshop and a Retreat?

Grief workshops and grief retreats both help a grieving person gain the tools needed to progress through their grief journey. Workshops typically last for a day or two, while a retreat is a longer, more in-depth commitment of time, focus, and energy.

Workshops are suitable for exploring grief-related topics and learning about how grief works. Grief retreats tend to last longer and are there to guide you on your journey through healing. 

Both workshops and retreats offer tremendous rewards for people who are suffering through loss. Retreats provide a more ample healing experience to help you find peace, comfort, and support from others experiencing similar loss-related grief. 

What Typically Happens During a Grief Workshop?

The general flow of a grief workshop tends to be similar whether the workshop is held online or in person. You'll be greeted by the workshop organizers and given instructions on what you should expect for the next several hours or days. 

Most workshop organizers allow participants to meet and greet before the start of each session. You can use this chance to get to know the other attendees, so you don't feel like you're all alone. Workshops are a great place to meet other people who may be experiencing a similar loss to yours for added support.

Once you get started, you can expect a very organized structure to the workshop that flows from one grief-related topic to the next. The moderator will help you identify and use appropriate coping skills to manage anxiety and depression related to grief.

Every workshop should have an outlined beginning and end. All participants should know what to expect and for how long. Having structured days planned lowers the attendees' stress and anxiety levels.

How Much Do Grief Workshops Typically Cost?

As with anything, grief workshops range in price depending on which one you choose. There are many online and in-person grief workshops offered free of charge or at a nominal cost.

Some workshops cost as little as one dollar per week to join. Of the workshops provided free of charge, nonprofit organizations in your community usually sponsor them. You may want to check with your local hospice provider or your community hospital.

The cost of grief workshops is usually limited to a nominal amount toward offsetting the cost of publication for the workbooks and other materials distributed during the meetings. Usually, large hospitals, hospice organizations, and other corporations have budgets to offer these courses for free. However, whenever a group of volunteers facilitates a workshop, you can expect to pay a small fee to cover those costs. 

If you're unable to pay or cannot afford to participate in a particular grief workshop, you can ask the organizers to waive your fee or ask them about any available scholarships.

Who Are Grief Workshops Usually For?

Grief workshops are typically for individuals who have difficulty moving through their pain after suffering a significant loss or for those who want to learn more about the grieving process. Friends and family members of bereaved individuals can also benefit from attending a grief workshop.

They'll learn about the many different aspects of grief and the unexpected grief reactions their loved ones may experience.

Experienced organizers tend to ask that participants wait for at least three months after suffering a significant loss before registering for a workshop.

Three months is the average time it takes to process the initial grief reactions and for a grieving individual to get past that initial shock and disbelief. There's no rush to get through your grief. You'll have plenty of time to learn about what to expect in the upcoming weeks and months.  

How to Find a Grief Workshop Near You

To find an excellent grief workshop near you, look no further than your community resources when starting your search. When seeking advice on where to begin your search, seek professionals in your area connected with death, dying, and bereavement. Consider them your first point of contact.

Most professionals working in hospitals, hospices, and long-term care facilities can point you in the right direction. You can also go online and take a look to see who's hosting grief-related workshops in your area. 

Your local library or community resource center may be the perfect place to inquire about grief workshops offered by volunteers in your community. Support for many of these programs comes from nonprofit corporations and is provided free of charge to the general public. The following tips may help you find one that's suited to your needs.

Call your local hospice center

Almost every hospice center that you reach out to will have some information on local grief workshops. Don't pass up this excellent grief resource, especially after your loved one has died. Many people don't know that you can still benefit from the services provided by hospice care even when your loved one has died. 

Many hospices extend their grief and bereavement services to the families of their patients. Most have in-house chaplaincy services staffed by professionals and volunteers alike. Of those who don't, they'll have a contact list of referrals for you to call upon whenever you need them. Hospice offers these services for free to all members of the community just by asking.

Visit your library

In many communities, the local library is now the point of contact for grief-related seminars and workshops. Your local librarian will have access to any upcoming workshops or information on who to contact if they don't offer that particular service in your area. Library workshops typically provide information on how grief works, the stages of grief, and what to expect when you or a loved one is suffering through a significant loss. 

They'll often make available multiple grief-related resources for members of the community, including adults, children, and teens. Writing or journaling workshops are also popular library-hosted events that combine grief work with the guidance of a moderator or therapist. These workshops don't require you to be good at writing or public speaking. You only need to have the desire to join and participate in making the most of your time. 

Don’t skip the funeral home

Another often overlooked resource is your local funeral director. Funeral directors are in the business of death, grief, and mourning. The care and support a funeral home provides to families of the deceased doesn't end with the funeral. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the journey through grief doesn't end when their loved one is buried. 

Funeral homes understand that grief is ever-evolving and doesn't simply go away when their services end. Many funeral homes have a grief specialist on staff. Their job is to reach out to those who've recently lost a loved one that may be suffering through grief-related symptoms in the weeks and months following the death of their loved one.

Grief Workshops Help Heal

When coping with the loss of a loved one or other significant loss in life, it's sometimes challenging to get through the most challenging part of your grief on your own. Regardless of your personal decision to attend a grief workshop, you can expect to find some form of therapy or healing afterward. 

There's no limit to the number of seminars you can attend as you're learning to deal with your loss. Every meeting and every professional moderator will have a unique perspective to add to your healing journey.

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