Who can lead a grief group?

Anyone who has a heart for those who grieve can lead a grief group.

Do I need experience or special expertise?

To be an effective leader, it’s not necessary that you have pastoral or counseling experience. You may be a pastor or church staff person. You may be a pastoral care volunteer or a Stephen minister. You may be a layperson who has been asked to lead a group or who has volunteered to lead one. Or you may be a professional counselor who would like to lead a group in the community or church. As a grief group leader you need only a compassionate desire to minister to those who grieve.

What do I need to know about leading a grief group?

A grief group is very different from any other group you may have led or ever will lead. It is a place of special sanctity because those who grieve come with wounded spirits and emotion-laden expectations. They entrust their pain to your care. When you step out in faith to lead - to listen, care for, and nurture those who grieve - you give the gift of yourself to others.

What will I do as a grief group leader?

As a group leader you offer both emotional and spiritual support to those who grieve. You affirm through your comfort and encouragement that there is life beyond the broken heart.

How many participants will there be in a grief group?

Typically a grief group is most dynamic with 6–12 participants. Depending on size and the number of persons in your church or community actively grieving the loss of a loved one, it might be necessary to ask another church or outreach ministry in your community to form a joint group - there’s always someone in need of a grief support group.

What does a grief group look like?

The make-up of grief groups and the needs of those who participate change constantly, due in part to many of the circumstances in our 21st century life. Each grief group will have a unique, distinctive face of its own, probably more young than old, likely with as many men as women. Grief is ageless and timeless, modern and contemporary, a daily reality of life.

What are the expectations of those in a grief group?

Those who participate in a grief group usually want direction and guidance for their journey through grief. Some will be seeking relief from their isolation and loneliness; some may simply need the understanding of others who grieve; some may be looking for answers to the questions of death and grief. Those who attend a grief support group want both practical information and spiritual substance to help them understand and ultimately resolve their grief.

How do I start a grief group program?

Starting a group is an initiative. Each group will be different. The Beyond the Broken Heart Leader Guide clearly explains how to plan and publicize a group – the what, when, and where. It also includes a step-by-step curriculum guide for the leader to follow in each group session.

How do I prepare to lead a grief group?

Leading a grief group can stretch you mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Your success as a leader depends in part on your personal and spiritual preparation.

Is the program flexible?

The Beyond the Broken Heart program offers almost unlimited potential for meeting the spiritual and emotional needs of those who grieve. It can be adapted easily to fit the exact needs of your church or community. The program is the curriculum – you provide the ministry.

Can I get personal help as a group leader?

Yes. Others are sharing their experiences and challenges in the Group Leader forum on this website. You’ll find encouragement and support as well as opportunity to network, leader-to-leader. If you prefer to consult privately, Ask Julie.