Connecting with others who have also experienced a loss can be comforting and helpful to people who are grieving. Online grief support groups provide a convenient way to interact with others who are experiencing grief. Many options are available, including specialized groups that emphasize specific types of losses and general groups for all types of grief. Explore options for live online support groups as well as social media-based groups and forums that are available 24/7.
Live Online Grief Support Groups
Virtual online grief support groups are perfect for people who want to connect with others in real-time on a set schedule. There are several options for these types of sessions, including general grief support groups and ones for specific types of losses.
My Grief Angels
My Grief Angels offers several Zoom-based virtual support groups, most of which meet weekly or every other week. Only those who are grieving can participate. You will need to register for the group of your choice in order to receive a login link. You'll have to provide your name and email address, along with general information about the loss that is leading you to want to participate in the group. In addition to a weekly general grief support group, they have several specialized groups:
- Parent, grandparent, or guardian loss
- Sibling, extended family, or friend loss
- Child loss (any age)
- Spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend loss
- Spanish language general grief
- LGBTQIA loss
- Healthcare workers
- Pet loss
The Compassionate Friends Live Chat
The Compassionate Friends (TCF) hosts several volunteer-led live chat support groups each week, with scheduled times set aside for specific needs. They hold orientation sessions for first-time participants a few times each week. To participate, just visit TCF's online support page to find the schedule. When it's time for the group to meet, simply click "enter room" for the session of your choice, then follow the on-screen prompts to register. After orientation, you can attend your choice of special focus groups:
- Parent, grandparent, or sibling loss
- Loss related to substance abuse
- Recent loss (less than three years)
- Less recent loss (more than three years)
- Child loss with no surviving children
- Pregnancy or infant loss
Facebook-Based Grief Support Groups
Not all online grief supports involve live meetings at a specific time. A number of grief support organizations operate private Facebook groups where bereaved individuals can connect and support each other. With this type of group, you can participate at any time of day or night. You'll need to log in to your Facebook account to request access to join. This requires answering a set of questions and agreeing to group rules.
Grief Anonymous Family Hub
Grief Anonymous (GA) operates a series of private Facebook support groups for people seeking to connect with other bereaved individuals. Their original group is the Grief Anonymous Family Hub; it has around 5,000 members and is appropriate for people who are coping with all types of grief. They also have several other groups that focus on specific types of grief. Once you connect with the GA hub, you may find that you also want to join one of their specialized groups.
Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support
Share Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support operates three private Facebook groups to help people who are coping with pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or the death of an infant. They offer English and Spanish language groups for bereaved families who have experienced this type of loss, as well as a separate group for bereaved mothers who are trying to get pregnant again. You can click through to the Facebook groups from Share's online support page (toward the bottom).
First Candle Online Support Groups
First Candle also has three Facebook-based online support groups for parents who are grieving a stillbirth, the loss of a pregnancy, or the loss of a child due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Start at First Candle's online support groups page, then select the group that aligns with the type of loss you have experienced.
More Web-Based Grief Groups
Live virtual sessions and Facebook support groups aren't the only options for people looking to find grief support via the internet. For alternatives or additional resources, explore these options:
Online Grief Support Forum
If you want to post and reply to comments within an online grief support group but prefer to avoid Facebook, the Online Grief Support Forum is a great option to consider. This is a traditional forum with more than 14,000 members. There is no cost to participate. Once you sign up, you can post or reply to comments in a wide variety of discussion threads or start your own. The forum is very active, so you'll be able to interact with many people who are also experiencing grief and seeking support.
Online Grief Support Blog/Journal
The Online Grief Support community isn't limited to the support group forum described above. Once you sign up, you will also be able to write your own blog/journal posts to share on the site. Members are not required to do this, but many find it helpful to share more information about their losses than what could be included in a fairly short forum post. Other members can comment on blog/journal posts, so this is a great way to get feedback and support from other bereaved individuals.
DailyStrength Death & Dying Groups
DailyStrength offers a number of online support group discussion boards, including a few that focus on death and dying. They have a general bereavement group as well as groups for widows/widowers, motherless children, and bereaved teenagers. This is a relatively small online support option, as each group has only a few hundred members. It can be a good option for those who are seeking support, but find the idea of a large online community to be overwhelming.
GriefNet Email Support Groups
GriefNet offers email support groups for people looking to connect with others for support. Simply visit Grief.net to join the group(s) that are relevant to your circumstances. Be sure to review the rules prior to engaging. The group requests that members contribute $10 per month per group, but welcomes those who may not have the resources to pay. In addition to groups for adults, they also have support groups for kids and teens. They even have one for people who work with bereaved individuals. Group categories include:
- Spouse or partner loss
- Child loss
- Parent loss
- Sibling or friend loss
- Traumatic loss
- Health-related loss
- Unique loss
What to Expect From Online Bereavement Groups
Whatever stage of the bereavement process you are in, you may find online support to be helpful. Many seek this style of support because grieving about their loved ones happens from the privacy of their own homes. Most of these groups are founded or moderated by people who have lost a loved one. Online support groups offer:
- An opportunity to connect with other bereaved individuals who can offer support
- A chance to share your grief with others who experienced a similar situation
- A group of empathetic people to serve as members of a sounding board
- A place where you know you will be welcome to talk about your departed loved one(s)
- A place to share poetry, photographs, writings, or thoughts about their deceased loved ones
- An opportunity to share joys, sorrows, and memories about the one who died
- An opportunity to feel less lonely in your grief by connecting with others who have experienced loss
- A place to learn coping skills, stress management techniques, and ways to relax
Exercise Caution With Online Groups
Joining an online grief support group is not without risk. Moderators try to limit participation to people who are grieving and wish to sincerely engage with others, but unscrupulous individuals may sometimes slip in. Protect yourself against identity theft and other internet scams when engaging in online communities. Best practices for internet safety include:
- Be careful what you post. Never give out personal information to anyone. This includes things like contact details, passwords, credit card or bank information, and other identifying data.
- Make sure the group you join is secure and private. Look for an option that requires registration and approval, so there is at least some level of screening in place.
- Legitimate grief support groups do not require a registration fee. Some may request donations since they are volunteer-led groups, but payment shouldn't be mandated.
- Do not believe everything you read. It's hard to believe that scam artists invade personal and emotional sites such as this, but they absolutely do.
- Immediately report suspicious behaviors or content to the group's moderator or website owner.
Seek Grief Counseling as Needed
Online grief support groups can be very helpful, but they aren't the same as seeking individualized grief counseling or related support services from a qualified professional. There are many ways grief counseling can help a bereaved individual beyond the scope of a support group. You may find it helpful to engage the services of a licensed grief counselor during your bereavement or seek other options for free grief counseling in your (virtual or real-world) community.
Learning to Live Your New Normal Life
Participating in online grief support groups can help you cope with and work through your grief, but they're not a shortcut to navigating the stages of mourning. Support groups cannot resolve a person's grief. Nothing can do that because, in one way or another, grief for a lost loved one will always be present. However, getting the support you need can help you learn to lead a new normal life and understand that it's okay to be happy again.