Resources for Grief
At a grief event we recently co-sponsored, a participant asked for “resources about my kind of grief.” As a young widow raising teenagers, she was having trouble finding books and bereavement therapy sources that spoke specifically to the challenges she was facing. Resources for the bereaved are so ubiquitous, it is frequently exhausting to wade through the stacks of books and lists of therapies available. And many of us in need of those resources find that, amidst the copious offerings, none seem to address our particular needs.
For decades, most books on grief and loss each outlined one specific method for approaching mourning, detailing stages and suggesting tools to manage them. They presented grief as a uniform set of experiences and guided readers in the ways they “should” approach those experiences. Many grief circles functioned in a similar manner, with counselors presenting tips and tricks that ignored the unique nature of each individual grief.
Thankfully, all this is changing. In contemporary grief support, materials are now being addressed to specific losses, based on the relationship between the bereaved and the deceased (for example, parent and child or spouse and beloved) and sometimes on the nature of the death (by suicide or by long-term illness, for instance). In many cases, we find some level of comfort through connecting with others whose loss looks a bit like ours.
Another new movement in grief resources is toward supporting young adults who are experiencing significant losses. For folks in the early decades of adulthood, there has been woefully little specific grief support, exacerbating the isolation already caused by grief. This is a welcome trend, and we have two favorite leaders in this direction:
The Dinner Party, whose mission is “To transform life after loss from an isolating experience into one marked by community support, candid conversation, and forward movement using the age old practice of breaking bread.” Bereaved people in their 20s and 30s gather to eat dinner and share their stories. See https://www.thedinnerparty.org/ for more information
Hot Young Widows Club, is “the best crappy club you never wanted to join, and we'd like to keep it that way.” This is an online support group for people who have lost their life partner. It is not exclusively for young people, or even for women, but those are the folks who mostly find their way to this club. To learn more, visit: https://www.hotyoungwidowsclub.com/
Support groups -- in person or online -- are not for everyone. Each of us has one-of-a-kind needs based on our temperament, life circumstances, and ways of processing information and expressing emotions. Some of us are voracious readers, even in our grief; others may find themselves unable to focus long enough to read one paragraph. Podcasts become companions for many of us who feel alone as we grieve, while films fill a similar role for others. Grief counselors provide great help for some but little for others. Discerning what type of support we need amidst all that is available to us is rigorous work when we are not grieving a great loss. When we are, that task is almost entirely unmanageable.