Parents expect to outlive their offspring, so the loss of an adult child seems unnatural. Friends and family members can be a source of comfort, but some parents feel they need the help of a support group. There are several resources that provide services or can connect grieving parents of adult children with support groups in their community.
Benefits of Support Groups
Most parents feel isolated in their grief, but getting together with other parents who have already worked through grief-related issues helps the newly bereaved to know they are not alone. An effective group is an understanding, friendly, comfortable and safe place. Members of support groups show empathy by listening as parents talk about the uniqueness of the adult child who has passed away and the events related to the death. Parents are able to share any feelings they may have such as bitterness and disappointment when other people fail to support them. When nonbereaved people pressure parents to heal quickly, the group can reassure them that there is no reason to shorten grief.
Hospices provide care to patients who are close to the end of life because of illness, accidents or an act of violence. Hospices provide bereavement counselling for one year or more to the families, partners and close friends of patients who have passed away under the Medicare Hospice Benefit. Hospices have bereavement coordinators who can provide information on local community support groups.
Some funeral homes offer bereavement support and aftercare or sponsor support groups. If funeral homes do not offer these services, they can recommend local resources in the community.
Many faith-based organisations offer bereavement support groups. These organisations have ways to comfort grieving people, such as meditation, prayer and counselling from clergy.
Some non-profit organisations offer grief support groups based on the causes of death, such as cancer. Some types of death have additional issues that can be addressed in support groups. When parents lose an adult child to violence or homicide, they may be emotionally shattered by their child's last moments, angry when law enforcement does not provide information, and they may possibly be facing a criminal investigation and trial. When an adult child takes his or her life, parents may have flashbacks of the suicide scenes and struggle with feelings of guilt and failure that they missed signs.
Some parents join online support groups that meet their specific needs. These groups can be valuable if they are monitored by professional grief counsellors. (reference 2)