How can a person begin to survive the emotional roller-coaster ride one experiences after the death of a loved one? A father who outlives his child; a wife who tries to make sense of her husband’s suicide; a daughter who watches her mother suffer as cancer robs her of her dignity; a teenager in shock after a dear friend is the victim of a senseless shooting.
These are just some of the stories that have been submitted to ShareGrief.com, a website offering on-line grief support, insights, and resources to people from all over the world who have had the misfortune to experience the death of a family member or friend. In the most public of places, a person can be granted the utmost privacy. Like fingerprints, grief is so unique that no two people experience it in the same way.
The site was launched in 2001 to initially help grievers who were isolated and living in remote areas find some type of support after living through the loss of a loved one. Since that time, hundreds of members from the world-wide grieving community have contacted the ShareGrief.com website, each with his or her own personal story of grief. Although on-line support is not a substitute for personal counseling, it is an alternative for some people who may have no other outlet to talk about their pain.
A team of highly skilled grief professionals has been recruited from North America, Australia, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. Each member of the ShareGrief family is an experienced grief practitioner who reaches out via compassionate emails to the bereaved who are homebound, handicapped, elderly or ill and help them try to make sense of the loss they have experienced. This team generously volunteers their time and provides hope for those who have experienced suicides, multiple deaths, loss of a child, and sudden and traumatic deaths. These experts have also supported families of the victims of world tragedies and disasters, such as 9/11, tsunami in Indonesia, the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.
ShareGrief.com has also sparked the curiosity of the professional community and has received numerous inquiries from educators, healthcare professionals, students and writers. Their interest has led them to contact the site and search for resources for clients, engage a ShareGrief professional to speak to their organization, request an interview or discover how they can join the ShareGrief team.
As founder of ShareGrief.com, I continue to be humbled by the uniqueness of each of these grievers who reach out to us for help and comfort after the death of a loved one. For many of them, it is the first step taken on the long, difficult journey we know as grief. Some people may seek out a professional who specializes in grief therapy; others may choose to attend a bereavement support group. Some grievers rely on family members and friends to share their pain, while others hide it and pretend it does not exist. The age of computers has given the bereaved yet another avenue to express their feelings of loss and despair.
Sandy Lipkus MSW