By Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC
If you have access to a computer with an Internet connection, you have at your fingertips a wealth of grief information, comfort and support. The Open to Hope website offers an extensive array of resources.
Other websites offer online chat rooms, discussion forums and message boards, where you can join a virtual support group, connecting with and sharing your experiences with others whose losses are similar to your own. The online Grief Healing Discussion Groups that I monitor and moderate is an example of such a site.
Selecting from over a dozen individual forums, mourners with similar losses can network, mourn together and support one another in their own safe, healing place. Forums range from general issues of bereavement to specific types of loss, including that of a spouse or partner, a parent, child, or sibling, and even a cherished pet.
The service is available to everyone at no cost, at any hour of the day or night, seven days a week. It is safe and confidential; membership is free and simply requires registration with a unique user name and secret password of one’s own choosing. Forums are moderated by a professional bereavement counselor, and individual messages are monitored for appropriateness.
Members participate when they wish and are able to, not at a set time, which can be an advantage for those whose schedules won’t permit their attending an in-person support group. Participation can be especially helpful on anniversary dates, celebration days and holidays.
When one member posts a message, anyone can respond with love and caring to the thoughts and feelings of an individual, and other readers can benefit from the information shared. Whether reading or posting and responding to messages, participants come to a greater understanding of each other’s grief and loss, as everyone becomes more caring, accepting and tolerant of one another.
One benefit is that those members who post have an ongoing, written record of all the responses they’ve received, as well as access to all the other messages and responses posted on the site. By comparing more recent posts with older ones, individuals can track their own progress over time. New members witness the growth and positive transformation that occurs among more seasoned members, which gives them hope for their own future.
In addition, such a service:
Enables you to be interactive at a time when it is difficult to interact in normally social ways.
Allows you to express feelings, ask questions and get responses in a reasonable amount of time, usually within a matter of hours.
Gives you practical information about the grieving process in general.
Enables greater understanding of your own reactions to a particular loss.
Assists in resolution of your grief.
Enables sharing of your experiences and discussion of your feelings, without fear of being judged.
Reassures you that what you’re going through is normal, that you are not alone, and that other mourners know your pain, even if friends and family do not understand.
Offers nourishment and protection in a safe environment that awakens the natural healing process.
Informs, directs, and gives you access to other valuable resources, links to grief-related articles, stories, poems, inspirational writings, pamphlets, magazines, books, videos, sites, centers, organizations, remembrance pages and memorial sites.
Provides information to help you be more supportive of friends, neighbors, family members and others who are also in mourning.
Before you decide to participate in any online grief forum or message board, you are wise to consider these precautions:
Investigate before you participate. Notice whether the service is sponsored by a reputable organization, and learn whether the moderators are qualified to offer information and support.
Read about the moderators to learn about their background, education, and training. Make sure they have experience in facilitating groups and knowledge about the normal grief process. Read some posts written by the moderators to get a sense of their approach to grieving people.
Make certain that the group or forum you select is made up of mourners with whom you can identify. Read some of the posts in a give forum to decide if you can relate to the people gathered there.
Look for a statement of the group’s purpose and its “ground rules.” These should appear on the site’s main (or “home”) page.
Look for an option that enables you to report to the moderator(s) any post that you find objectionable.
Use your own good judgment and common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, if you don’t feel safe, accepted or understood, trust your instincts, leave immediately and find another group.
© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC
Reach Marty through her websites, http://www.griefhealing.com and http://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com. She blogs weekly at Grief Healing and can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest.Tags: grief, hope
Hello. 8 years ago, I was in a marriage that was unbalanced but not altogether unhappy. Years later, although I know it wasn’t all me, I also see that I was sometimes selfish and badly behaved. Spoiled and inconsiderate even. I left my husband for another man. I didn’t have an affair with him while my ex-husband and I were together but, nonetheless, it wasn’t good behaviour. I moved in with the other man, in another city. We fought a lot, he had a bad temper and did and said some things to me that were so unkind and hurtful that I will probably never be the same person again. Things weren’t so great and honestly, I felt that I probably deserved to feel this pain for taking my ex for granted and tossing him aside. Things were just starting to get better for my current partner and I when my ex-husband was killed in an accident. That was a year ago and to this day, I am a complete mess. I fight back tears at least 10 times a day. I can’t listen to music because so much of it makes me fall apart. I can’t seem to remember how unfulfilled and miserable I was when we were married. Only how much I wish I’d never left. I feel like he’d still be alive if we’d stayed together because circumstances would have prevented the accident (as a secular humanist, I don’t belieive in “meant to happen”). I miss him (and his family) so much but I feel like all the guilt and regret and self-loathing are complicating any chance I have of separating those emotions from the normal progression of the grieving process. It seems crazy to be in the depths of such an inescapably deep pit of depression over an ex that I hadn’t even seen in the 7 years before he died. I’m on the edge of falling apart all the time and I don’t know what to do.
Hello to All:
I want to let everyone know about our Grief Support Services On-line.
“Losing Our Parents” is an Internet-based registered charity that offers free support and education to people who are dealing with the declining health or death of a parent.
We offer both peer support and have just launched a “Network of Experts”. Everyone involved in our charity has either lost a parent, or is dealing with their declining health. We are all volunteers, just trying to help. Please drop by for a visit at:
Thank you Marty for your very important article. Online support has become very important for people struggling with grief and daily coping while seeking a path to sustained acceptance and healing.
I also appreciate Mary Bart’s comments about their site offering a “network of experts,” because that is truly what we all are. There is no greater expert related to loss than those who have lost loved ones and experience grief and the struggle to cope, firsthand.
As a grief counselor and founder of the Peer Support Network at MyGriefSpace.net, I strongly advocate pooling helpful grief resources to offer those in grief the greatest number of places to receive support possible, both online and off.
I’m looking for a grief group specific to the loss of a sibling. Any suggestions?
Carrie, dear, forgive me, but I did not see your post until now. If you’ll visit the Death of a Sibling or Twin page of my Grief Healing Web site, you’ll find links to a number of resources that I hope you’ll find helpful: http://www.griefhealing.com/death-of-a-sibling-or-twin.htm
I would like to let readers know about this Online Counseling Service. If you are experiencing difficulty with any part of the grieving process and would like to talk to a therapist, I offer an Online Service via Skype in which you can talk to Dr. Peter Strong, a therapist, teacher, author and specialist in Mindfulness Therapy, which offers a very personal and gentle way of working with deep emotional pain. Inquires welcome.
I have recently lost my oldest daughter, Support needed.
I recently lost my oldest daughter at the age of 44. I need support
Nancy, my dear, I’m so sorry to learn of the death of your precious daughter; please accept my heartfelt sympathy. If you’re looking for “in person” grief support, I suggest that you contact your local church, hospice or mortuary for a referral to whatever bereavement support services might be available in your city or town. If it’s online support you’re seeking, you can investigate any of those mentioned above. I can only speak for the Grief Healing Discussion Groups that I moderate, at https://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com, which includes a forum for Loss of an Infant or Child ~ but if that is the one you choose, please know that you are most welcome to join us. You might also find this article helpful: When An Adult Child Dies: Resources for Bereaved Parents.
Nancy losing a child is one of the hardest experiences a parent can face. I have provided the support sight for grieving parents. They have 600+ local chapters in this country with online support and a facebook page. I hope this helps.
Hello. I lost my husband 6 months ago to cancer. Today is our anniversary and I am really struggling. I have been struggling the entire time but today is harder than most. I was one of the fortunate wives who had a wonderful loving husband, who was my best friend. He was my daughters rock as well. I have a special needs daughter who is struggling as well and helping her is difficult enough as it is but now that she has lost her father it is even worse. I am not sure how to help her when I am not able to help myself. I feel so many emotions at not knowing what to do to help her and I feel like I am not being the mother I need to be in order to make her a little less miserable. The last words my husband spoke was for me to take care of our children and I feel like I am letting him down. I cannot afford therapy, nor the time to go to groups as my daughter has to have 24 hour supervision. I have always been very strong but I am now at a complete loss as so to what to do or what my next step is. I loved my husband of 22 years very much, we had our battles but nothing that love and communication did not take care of. Both of my children were daddy’s girls and I feel like I am the odd man out right now as they tell me how much they hate me everyday since he passed away. I know they are hurting but so am I. I try to be patient while trying to work, go to school, and take of my special needs daughter but I feel my patience running low and I do not want to be in that position. I have no family support, nor many friends as most of my time is spent taking care of my daughter at home. I have an organization that helps out with my daughter but since my husband passed away I cannot leave her for very long due to her anxiety and depression. She is on medication but they only do so much and I do not want her to be a walking zombie. How do I best approach my own depression when I do not have the money or the time to get professional help? I am really lost, scared, lonely, and depressed. Everyone says go to the doctor but how do you go when you do not have the time or the money. I am not feeling sorry for myself but when you have a special needs daughter at home, working full time is not an option for now. My family is very non-supportive and they never have been. How do I keep a positive attitude when everything has beaten me down. I have to be strong for my children but at this point I am not sure how to do it any longer.
My dear, your message touches my heart, and I’m so sorry that you’re struggling and feeling so alone. I understand that you’re quite tied down at home with your daughter, but since you do have access to a computer, there is a wealth of information, comfort and support available to you on the Internet ~ and it is a far away as your keyboard. See, for example,
You say you’re not sure how to help your daughter with her grief, but I can tell you that the best way to help her is to take care of your own grief first.
Since you cannot get away right now, consider joining an online grief support group, such as the one I moderate, . You might also consider working with a grief counselor who specializes in distance counseling via Skype or email.
Do some reading about what is normal in grief so you’ll have a better idea of how to manage your own reactions. You might start by reading some of the articles listed on the Open to Hope website. See also this page:
To understand better what you can do to help your daughter, see these articles focusing on grief and children with special needs:
To be sure, your plate is full to overflowing ~ but I hope you will make some time to explore some of these online resources. Doing so may help you feel less alone and give you some hope for the future. Meanwhile you are in my thoughts and prayers, and I wish you all the best. ♥
Two years ago this week I lost my first cat to dip after ten days from adopting him. We were close beyond belief and now I have nightly panic/ hysteria/ uncontrollable sobbing attacks, I can’t sleep until three am, and it is triggered by seeing photos of him declining. I feel guilty simply because there is nobody to blame, and my family doesn’t support me. Please, is there anywhere I can go online for support?
I’m so sorry to learn that you’ve lost your cat, Jade, and sorry too that your family is not offering the understanding and support you need and deserve. I can point you to many sources of support online, beginning with the Loss of A Pet forum that is part of our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups. See also the resources listed on this page: Helplines – Message Boards – Chats. You may find this article helpful as well: Finding Support for Pet Loss ~ and note the links to related resources listed at the base.
I’m having a hard time dealing with the death of my son. I can’t stop crying, can’t eat, it’s been just a year and I all of a sudden feel like my chest and head are going to explode
Dear Jeannine, I’m so very sorry to learn of the death of your beloved son. The death of a child is one of the most difficult experiences to endure, and my heart just hurts for you. I hope you’re not trying to carry this burden all by yourself. Please know that there are many resouces “out there” just waiting to give you the information, comfort and support you need and deserve. I hope you’re familiar with The Compassionate Friends, whose mission is to provide highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild. You’ll find links to this and many additional resources here: ‘When An Adult Child Dies: Resources for Bereaved Parents’ at https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/03/when-adult-child-dies-resources-for.html