What I’ve come to learn about online grieving & support groups

I’m a member of a few online grieving groups through social media. The handful of groups I am part of are intended solely for either grieving mothers or both mothers and fathers. There are many groups available for those who have lost siblings, spouses, parents and grandparents, etc. too. Child loss is where I’ve found myself needing the most help though. So today I’m writing about my own experience and personal opinions regarding groups specifically for the loss of a child.

TRUTH: No one wants to be part of one of these groups, yet there are thousands upon thousands who still find themselves there anyway, and the numbers grow and grow each & every day. It’s shocking to see the actual number of parents in each of these groups and even more shocking knowing that these numbers are only the very tip of the iceberg.

One benefit to joining a group with other parents who have also lost children of their own, is the feeling of “understanding” that comes along with it. I think that this is true, especially during the beginning of your journey. Losing a child can make you feel like you are completely losing your mind. And simply knowing that all you’re feeling, no matter how crazy it all may seem at the time, are feelings others are currently facing or have faced previously during their own journey. The feeling of acceptance and understanding you can feel can and does help ease your mind some. You are finding out that you are not alone and that means a lot.

Another benefit to becoming a member of an online grieving group is that they are all private and only available to those who fit certain criteria. This means that no one who is not an approved and vetted member of the group can see anything you or anyone else has written or posted. Period. This can be a good outlet for topics and feelings you’re uncomfortable expressing to a family member or anyone else close to you. Sometimes, you just can’t say certain things to the ones you love when it comes to grief.

I have found personal value in joining such groups. I am not going to mention any names of any grieving groups I’ve had experience with, as I truly believe that there can definitely be so many benefits to each one, and I most certainly do not wish to speak badly of any support organizations. They are ultimately here to help after all.

My main concerns with these types of groups are that they are not a replacement for counseling and should not be considered a replacement for a professional and licensed therapist or spiritual leader.

They are also full of countless members, all walking through different stages of their loss and grief journey. Many of which, only posting their most negative of emotions, and it’s understandable; they have to let it out somehow, there’s nothing wrong with that. It can set a tone for your own emotions though. Rather easily.

While I fully believe that there is much benefit to being part of these groups, I find that it is extremely important to not park your car there for very long at a time.

The whole topic of child loss is so dark and morbid in nature, all in itself. Spending too much time reading everything posted on these groups can cause many negative setbacks. This has been my case anyway.

I really do hate to use the word triggered, but in this case I believe it’s quite fitting. There are just too many things that can trigger the very darkest of emotions on these sites.

I have much empathy for the parents pouring their hearts out, but I personally cannot see it on a day in, day out basis. It’s just too much. So I try to keep a good balance.

I look at these sites only once in a while. I comment on anything I feel I can add some insight or inspiration to, at that time too. I also try only to post things that offer encouragement, understanding or writings specifically about my precious Madison, when I do post anything myself.

I’ve learned that for me personally, I have to protect myself from dark emotions when I can. I have too many to deal with already.

Just like with anything else in life, it’s important to find your own balance of what is right for you.

I truly do believe many online grieving and support groups are a positive tool in our grieving processes. They are only that though, a tool, a stepping stone, and it’s important to continue to seek and find other ways to express or deal with your grief during this lifelong journey.

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