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The Best Behavioral Rules for a Meaningful Support Group


Grieving Process

Posted On: Feb 17, 2017

The Best Behavioral Rules for a Meaningful Support Group

A grief group is a unique environment. It's unquestionably helpful for anyone going through bereavement, and since there are groups for practically every type of loss or death imaginable, finding a safe space is effortless. However, it's crucial to remember that you're not there alone. There are other mourners, survivors, and wounded people in the group with you. Being respectful of everyone's feelings is a must—it's non-negotiable. It's thus helpful to familiarize yourself with the standard ground rules and behaviors employed by most grief groups before you head to your first meeting.

Listening Is Most Important

It's not always easy to listen to someone else's heartbreak or tragedy, but in a support group, you must. It's of utmost importance that everyone feels safe. They have to feel like this is a place where they can speak freely, even if that includes crying, yelling, and venting. You can't close off yourself just because you hear something that hurts or something you don't like. You have to listen even if someone feels, grieves, or heals differently than you do.

No Arguing with Other Mourners

What's the point? Feelings of anger are common in grief group settings—people feel justifiably angry after their loved ones die—and it's thus just as common for participants to take out their anger on each other. Resist that urge. What good does it do to get angry at someone who's going through the same devastating ordeal as you?

Keep Everything Confidential

It is not your place to share the stories you hear in the group. The people who come to these meetings are like you. They want a private, safe location to work through their bereavement. Even if your intentions aren't bad, these are not your experiences. You have no business gossiping about them—and, like it or not, it is gossip.

Respect the Other Group Members

Clearly, as you can tell by the rules already listed, respect is a critical element in a grief therapy group. You must have respect for yourself and anyone who comes with you. You must respect your fellow mourners and their circumstances. You have to respect the facilitator, as well, especially when s/he is only trying to enforce the rules.

Take Turns as You Share

Finally, listening is just one aspect of behaving well in a group. You also need to take turns and give everyone a chance to speak. This is difficult when things get emotional but sit back, take a breath, and count to ten. You owe these people the same respect you expect. Give everyone a chance to speak and really listen to what they say.

These rules are only meant to protect the participants, so they feel safe. Going through this tragedy with others who understand how you feel is invaluable, even with rules in place.