5 Surprising Facts About Support Groups


​For those going through grief, reaching out for support often seems daunting. The idea can often overwhelm people and leave them stuck in their pain. Western Reserve Grief Services provides support to help people on their grief journey. A wide variety of options are offered by both Hospice of the Western Reserve and its affiliate, Hospice of Medina County. Many of the services are free of charge thanks to philanthropic support and available to anyone in the community who is grieving the death of a loved one.

“I’ve been part of the bereavement services team for almost 18 years. It’s an honor to be able to hear people’s stories and sit beside them in their grief as they work toward finding themselves again,” said JoDee Coulter, Bereavement Coordinator at the Robertson Bereavement Center located in Medina.  

“Nothing can prepare you for experiencing the death of a loved one. A common reaction is to immediately ask: ‘How can I make the pain stop?’ Everyone wants it to be over, but you can’t go around it - you have to go through it. These groups help grievers get to the other side. We encourage them to be patient with themselves and the process.”  

Here are Coulter’s five truths about support groups:

1.    You don’t sit and cry the whole time.  
“Yes, there are tears, but there is also laughter! We talk through things, share ideas and make connections. A lot of times people say they are afraid to start crying because they’ll never stop, but trust me, I’ve never seen that happen – plus, you’d get too tired!  Support groups help people let out a variety of feelings and emotions, both happy and sad, in a relaxed setting.”

2.    You don’t have to talk.
“A lot of people feel very uncomfortable talking in a group setting but they are still welcome to come listen and gain insight. No one is ever forced into anything they aren’t comfortable with. However, we encourage people to call the center to discuss their situation before attending a group. Some people may not be ready for that type of dynamic and we can help lead them in the right direction. Sometimes, people are in such grief that they may not even remember any of the information shared or find it too hard to hear. We can help find the best fit for them for where they are emotionally.”

3.    You might make lifelong friends.
People can become very close to each other when they share their stores, oftentimes forming meaningful friendships. Some people from former groups keep in touch years later. I’ll get calls out of the blue about specific group members saying, ‘so and so is getting married’ – from a person I had in a group 13 years ago!

4.    You can relate to more people than you think.  
Whether a person has had a wife, father or daughter die, they all share the common bond of grief and the similar feelings associated with it. You can still relate to someone whose loss seems totally different. That’s how we make connections. 

5.    People who lose pets grieve, too!
Pet grief workshops have been held in the past, and each year the Robertson Bereavement Center takes part in the Rainbow Bridge Tribute & Memorial Walk. Animals hold a special place in our lives and it’s natural to grieve when these treasured friends die.

Hospice of the Medina County’s Robertson Bereavement Center is part of Western Reserve Grief Services. One-on-one bereavement support is reserved for all hospice patients and their loved ones. However, the nonprofit agency’s wide variety of grief support groups are open to anyone in the community who is coping with the death of a loved one.  They need not have had a loved one in hospice care.

Support groups include:   

•    Hope & Healing: An ongoing, monthly support group for adults. Takes place the second Tuesday of each month from 3-4 p.m. Registration is not required.  
•    Circle of Hope: An educational, 6-week support group for adults who have had a loved one die. Held at The Robertson Bereavement Center, Thursdays, Sept. 26 – Wednesday, Oct. 30, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Registration is required.  

Call 330.662.4240 to learn more about support groups at the Robertson Bereavement Center. View the full list of support groups and healing arts offerings offered by Western Reserve Grief Services here

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