Group therapy for loss of a family member. what happens in one?

Hey, just noticed the post and hopefully the reply is still useful. So I’ve been in a couple groups over the years. While only 1 of the 4 main ones I participated in was actually specifically about grief, the topic still came up in the others.

  1. The grief group consisted of me and 2 other participants plus one other facilitator. There was usually some sort or topic or activity, that we would all discuss together, so it was pretty structured. As far as the specific questions that were asked, I can’t really say, the grief group was around 6 or so years ago. If I can remember, we would check in, how things are going, any specifics that came up that someone or multiple people wanted to talk about, and then, time permitting, go into an exercise looking at one aspect of grief. Throughout all of this we could discuss and share experiences. At least for me, experiencing the death of multiple family members and the associated grief was a very isolating experience, so just being in a room with people who could better understand and talk about that experience was pretty powerful.

  2. I think the whole idea is that a group’s strength is the collective of the members. I thought the grief group wasn’t as impactful as my other groups, mainly because it was only me, two other members, and then the facilitator who I didn’t particularly like. One of the other members didn’t participate much, and then the other didn’t show up regularly, so simply due to that it just wasn’t as impactful. The other groups I was in there was more people (7-8 members + 2 facilitators who all had very regular attendance), so it was easier to be quiet and observe if you don’t feel comfortable adding to the current topic or conversation. But ultimately, do you have to participate? Yes in some capacity. You should be engaged in the conversation and be capable of displaying that in SOME fashion (certainly at least eye contact, focused what they’re talking about and not lost in thought on something unrelated, etc.). Do you have to be talking constantly and spilling your guts out every meeting? Absolutely not. The idea of a group for me has always been that you come together to create a safe, trusting space, and then take care of each other. Part of getting taken care of BY the group, is taking care of other group members in some way (sharing/adding input/being engaged, etc.). To share my own experience: the first several meetings I was fairly quiet, and let the braver/more talkative people do the bulk of the sharing/talking. But in seeing others get very visible positive outcomes from them taking those risks and sharing, I got more and more courage to be more active in both adding input on what others were asking of the group, or bringing up topics/experiences myself. Your level of talking is certainly allowed to vary from day to day and over the course of the group.

  3. The only time I was bothered by group was when other members weren’t committing and showing up, but this has been pretty rare. It really hurts the group when members aren’t showing up regularly, since you can’t have a continuous, evolving conversation and it sucks having to repeat stuff, especially if it was particularly troubling experience. But overall my experiences with groups have been overwhelmingly positive.

  4. I’m not entirely sure on this one. The group’s I’ve been in have all been exclusively for college students so I haven’t run into the issue. I will say though, one strength of groups for me has been is that because it’s with people I’ve never met before, and generally have never interacted with afterwards, it created a space where I could try something completely new, since no one had any previous context of who I was. One of the agreements going into the groups I’ve been in is that you agree to not engage with people in relationships outside of group while the group is going on, since it can create cliques and otherwise harm the kind of inclusive group dynamic. So I mean, if you were trying to get into the same groups I’ve been in, I don’t think they’d let you bring your brother, but again, all my groups have been through a university so I’m not sure how it works outside of that.

  5. Absolutely yes. The vast majority of groups I’ve been in have been very powerful experiences. I went in with goals I identified with the facilitators beforehand, I think almost all of which I reached, along with growing in some ways I didn’t know I would. I think if you can, talk to the actual organizer of the group. I’ve experienced a number of different formats and styles, and you should be able to ask the facilitators a lot of the questions you ask here to see if they align with what you were looking for.

I hope some of that helped and please feel free to ask me to elaborate on anything, either on here or in a private message. I don’t mind sharing at all.

/r/GriefSupport Thread