The crisis of life requires healing the emotional damage before moving on with life. Any major changes or losses are opportunities for growth, but they are long and painful to accept.

Few people know what it feels like and no one knows exactly how it feels. But someone who has had a similar experience is the closest to being able to know and understand what they are dealing with.

This is a time in your life when family and friends are of no use, unless the same thing happened to them at the same time.

Here are some examples. When a child dies, a terrible tragedy in life, only other people who have lost a child can even come close to understanding their grief at the loss. Now, to refine it further, consider how the child died. If it was from cancer or an illness that involved a prolonged illness, the parents had the opportunity to process and begin the grieving process before death.

But if it was a traumatic and unexpected death like a murder or a car accident, it is more shocking to the survivors and takes longer.

In a support group, the closer the individual situation, the more likely it is that sincere empathy for suffering a similar loss can facilitate healing.

Too often, well-meaning friends or family try to understand and provide support, but are not connected enough to really understand the situation.

In fact, many times people who care about them say something really offensive when they realize the damage they have done. Like, “He’s in a better place” or “It’s time to get on with your life.”

That is why I have been addressing grief support groups. There are several organized groups available in many places in the United States. Some are Compassionate Friends for parents who have lost a child before or after birth, Parents of murdered children, MADD, for survivors of people killed by a drunk driver. And suicide survivors. They all provide wonderful service to those who attend.

If you have a loss, find a local support group and attend meetings whenever it is beneficial for you to go. Also, over time, you may be able to help others who are experiencing deep pain from a similar loss.

Support groups are beneficial for other situations as well. I started a support group in Mexico City for professional therapists working with grieving clients. They agreed to meet twice a month and exchange phone numbers.

Neighborhood watchers are another type of group. In fact, any group with common interests can form a group to offer support and, in some cases, enjoy the company of others.

This is not a new idea. Old-fashioned quilting bees did the same.

Finally, if you can’t find a group that suits your needs, start one. It’s easy, you just need a location, a start date, and a tentative schedule of how often your group will meet. Then place an ad in a local newspaper, radio station. Online or in any other way to communicate with the local population.

When I was a therapist working for a mental health agency, I started two groups. One for people with multiple sclerosis and one for family members with a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both were well attended and beneficial to the attendees.

Remember the old saying, “United we are … divided we fall.” United we survive and alone we suffer more.

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