Coping with Grief

Grief is not a permanent state, but a process one goes through as a means of coping with loss. Everyone experiences grief differently, but it always hurts. From sadness to guilt, anger and/or fear, support services can give you the opportunity to share your feelings with a professional or with others who are also experiencing loss.

"It takes strength to make your way through grief, to grab a hold of life and let it pull you forward."

 - Patti Davis, author

Common types of grief services & support

  • In-person and online support groups: Support groups offer companionship and give you the opportunity to share your story openly and guilt-free. You also have the opportunity to hear the stories of others and talk about coping day-to-day, as well as on the most difficult days of your grief.
  • Grief camps and retreats: These services incorporate therapeutic activities and programs to help families, children and individuals through the healing process.
  • Private counseling: Counseling offers the opportunity to talk things over with a trained counselor, which can help you make sense of your feelings. Counselors can offer you encouragement, support and advice through the grieving process.
  • Remembrance memorials: Many organizations, including funeral homes, hold community remembrance/memorial services throughout the year on special occasions like during the holiday seasons. This is done to honor those lost throughout the year and to help families remember their loved ones.

Coping with Holidays

Holidays are especially difficult if you've recently lost someone through death. By planning ahead, however, and dealing realistically with your expectations, you can turn holidays from something to simply be gotten through to instead be a time for reflection and even rejuvenation. We've compiled a list of resources and advice for this specific season of life.

Questions to ask your funeral director

  1. Who in our community provides grief support for someone who has experienced a loss similar to mine?
  2. Do grief support services cost anything? Are there any free support services in our area or online?
  3. How long after the death should a family wait before looking for grief services?
  4. What can I expect to get out of a support group?
  5. How long should I expect to attend support groups before feeling better?
  6. How do I choose a support group?

Grief Resources

General Resources

AARP Grief & Loss
articles, events and a resource directory
Grief in Common
online peer support
Web Healing
interactive forums, articles and videos
Open to Hope
articles, podcasts and books
Living with Loss
grief books
As your funeral director for recommendations on local resources. 

Specialized Support

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Grief Recovery After a Substance-abuse Passing
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Parents of Murdered Children
Pathways Counseling Center
find an EMDR therapist
Suicide Loss Survivors
Twinless Twins   WidowNet
resources for widows and widowers

Loss of a Child

American SIDS Institute
infant death program support center
Bereaved Parents USA
Center for Loss in Multiple Birth
Compassionate Friends
The Dougy Center for
Grieving Children and Families
Missing Grace Foundation
grief from infant loss or infertility

“A child can live with anything as long as he or she is told the truth and is allowed to share with loved ones the natural feelings people have when they are suffering.”

 - Eda LeShan, counselor

Children & Grief

Children cope with grief differently than adults. After losing a loved one, a child may go from crying one minute to playing the next. Playing can be a defense mechanism for children to keep them from becoming overwhelmed. It is also normal for a child to feel depressed, guilty, anxious and even angry towards the person who has died or even at someone else entirely.

More than adults, children need time to take a break from grief. Mood changes or feelings of grief, even several years after the event, are common as a child adapts to the loss of someone. It is important to listen to children, meet them on their terms and come to understand their unique grief reactions.

We've compiled some practical ideas and guidelines for helping children in your life learn to grieve. If needed, below is a list of organizations and programming specifically aimed at helping children learn to grieve.

Resources for Grieving Children

free weekend camp for grieving children
Comfort Zone Camp
a fun & safe place for grieving children
The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families
Eluna Network
supporting children & families impacted by grief or addiction
National Alliance for Grieving Children
Sesame Street in Communities

Sources for information on this page include OGR's 2011 booklet, "Learning to Cope," as well as's Coping with Grief & Loss and The Dougy Center's Support Group Frequently Asked Questions.