Online grief support groups can provide people going through bereavement with a healing space for their loss.

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Finding support when you’re grieving can be overwhelming, but online grief support groups exist at arm’s length — as close as your laptop or your phone.

The loss of a loved one is considered one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. It can profoundly change the way you live after you go through it.

Speaking to others who have gone through the same experiences that you have can bring about enormous relief.

Online support groups provide an outlet around the clock and allow participants who may feel isolated, stigmatized, or unable to attend in-person meetings an opportunity to reach outside their immediate communities for help. They can serve as a touchstone while coping with grief.

Grief support groups bring people together who have been through the loss of someone close to them.

Some target specific groups, such as parents who have lost a child or those who have lost loved ones who died by suicide. Others are more general.

You may also see them referred to as bereavement support groups or loss-support groups.

There are many professionals and places that can help you find resources about these groups (and sometimes groups may even be held in these spaces):

  • hospitals
  • hospices
  • places of worship
  • community centers
  • school guidance counselors

Plus, your primary doctor may be able to refer you to a social worker or other behavioral health pro who’s familiar with social support resources.

You may find a group that meets in person, but the resources we list here are online groups with a focus on online support.

There are plenty of bereavement support groups out there. To narrow it down, we looked at:

  • Qualifications: Do the founders or staff hold certain qualifications that make them suitable to lead a grief support group?
  • Activity: Are the groups busy with daily new posts?
  • Security and safety: Do the sites show concern for members’ security and safety?
  • Cost: All the resources listed here are free, though some ask for donations to support their programs.
  • Accessibility: Most online support forums on this list are open to people worldwide. However, phone hotlines and other services like in-person meetings may only be accessible to people within the United States.

Best overall, founded in 1997, is one of the oldest and most established online grief support groups. Its long history means a breadth and depth across its forum, both in terms of the number of users (250,000) and the variety of topics.

What we like

  • can serve just about anyone who’s experienced any type of loss, including loss of parents, siblings, children, and partners.
  • The site provides some forums related to issues surrounding death and grief that aren’t specifically about loss.
  • The service has forums for caregivers, discussing religious rituals around death, and a special section about COVID-19.

What to look out for

  • may become overwhelming for some because it’s not specific to any one type of grief or loss.

Best for parents who lost a child

MISS Foundation

The MISS Foundation offers free forums, moderated around the clock. The website also provides:

  • support packets to those in need of immediate support
  • access to in-person groups
  • a carefarm where grieving families can participate in animal therapy
  • grief retreats

What we like

  • The site is easy to read and has been updated recently.
  • The founder is a parent who experienced the loss of a child, as are many of her staff and the moderators of the forums.
  • A mentorship program pairs bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents with another person who has gone through a similar experience from the same perspective. Mentors are trained volunteers who will meet in person or online depending on distance.

What to look out for

  • People can participate anonymously; while this can be an appealing feature to some, it may also make it harder to vet participants.

Best for pregnancy and infant loss

First Candle

First Candle offers support for families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss.

In addition to a 24-hour grief support line staffed by bilingual crisis counselors, First Candle also hosts three private online support groups on Facebook for people who have lost a child to:

What we like

  • You can call their grief support line 24/7 at 800-221-7437.
  • Peer-support volunteers all have experienced the loss of an infant and have undergone training.
  • The support groups offer a safe and supportive space to talk about experiences of pregnancy and infant loss.
  • In addition to offering grief support, First Candle also strives to educate people about safe sleep for infants.

What to look out for

  • While the Facebook groups have certain rules to ensure respect and confidentiality, anyone within the group will be able to read your posts.
  • Though volunteers undergo training, they’re not mental health professionals.

Best for people who have lost a partner

Widowers on Reddit

The Widowers subreddit, active for more than 9 years, has more than 12,000 members and is moderated by 4 volunteers. It’s a very active site with posts covering a wide variety of topics related to the loss of a spouse, partner, or companion.

What we like

  • The site welcomes people who weren’t married but lost a partner.
  • The group is welcoming to LGBTQIA+ members.
  • Reddit’s popularity means the site stays active and busy, and if you have concerns or questions, they’re likely to receive responses quickly.

What to look out for

  • Reddit is a social media site — not a dedicated or protected forum — and what you write is publicly accessible.
  • Users’ identities are protected and it may be difficult to get to know people beyond their usernames.

Best for young adults

Actively Moving Forward

Actively Moving Forward (AMF) is a network created by HealGrief specifically for grieving young adults, including college students.

They offer an invite-only app, in which you can access:

  • book clubs
  • readings, videos, and resources
  • virtual support groups
  • individual and group chats with community members
  • community comment boards

What we like

  • Though AMF was created with grieving young adults (ages 18–30) in mind, the app also offers communities for adults older than 30 years, as well as professionals.
  • The app makes it easy for people to connect with others.
  • In addition to virtual support groups, AMF offers a variety of resources, including readings and videos.

What to look out for

  • To access the app, you need to register and wait for an invitation to be sent to you.

Best for people grieving someone who died by suicide

Suicide Grief Support

Loss after suicide is often connected with stigma and feelings of guilt, shame, responsibility, and rejection. Connecting with others who have gone through the same thing may help you deal with and work through these feelings.

The Suicide Grief Support Facebook group has more than 11,000 members, has been around on the social network for 10 years, and is fairly busy.

Four moderators tend to posts, and the group welcomes anyone who has lost a loved one who died by suicide.

What we like

  • The group, although it’s on Facebook, is private, meaning what you post is visible only to others in the group.
  • You must answer security questions to join the group.
  • They also run a separate page called Suicide Grief Support for Parents, for parents whose child died by suicide, and people are encouraged to join both groups.

What to look out for

  • Although the group is private, posting on Facebook does have more safety concerns than posting on an independent, secure forum.

Best for people grieving the loss of a pet

Grief Healing Discussion Groups for Pet Loss

Although the forums at Grief Healing Discussion Groups encompass many varieties of loss, the site is run by a counselor who has written extensively about pet loss and runs pet loss support groups.

For many, losing a beloved pet can be as traumatic as losing a human companion, and grief can be long lived. This site recognizes this and offers people a place to talk about their animals and relationships with them.

What we like

  • The site owner has an extensive background helping people deal with pet grief. Plus, she was a moderator and monitor for the site before she became its owner.
  • The forum site is quite active and moderated by trained counselors.

What to look out for

  • The site doesn’t cater exclusively to grieving pet owners.
  • Pet grief is often not taken as seriously as grief related to a human loss.

In-person option for grieving children

Camp Erin

Though it’s not an online support group, Camp Erin is worthy of being included in our list.

It’s the largest free bereavement program for children and teens in the United States and Canada.

Camps are held in every city with a major league baseball team, and in a few other areas. Children attend for a weekend, and programming blends traditional outdoor camp activities with grief counseling and opportunities to discuss and memorialize loved ones.

Eluna, the nonprofit organization that oversees Camp Erin, also runs Camp Mariposa, a program for children whose families are affected by addiction.

What we like

  • Grief can be isolating; a camp experience offers children a way to meet others in the same situation and to bond over their shared experiences.
  • The program is free and widespread.

What to look out for

  • If you don’t live near a big city or one with a major league baseball team, services may be difficult to access.
  • Camps are held at specific times, and children may not be able to receive constant support.*
  • The program doesn’t offer immediate assistance.

*If you’re hoping to connect your kid with more ongoing support, you could ask your primary care physician for a referral. Some online therapy services may also offer help for children and teens.

In the wake of a loss — whether expected or unexpected — finding support can be highly beneficial. Online support groups can offer a space to talk about and work through your grief.

Groups or subgroups of larger organizations that target the type of loss you’re experiencing may allow you to find companionship among people going through similar things at the same time as you.

Of course, no two people experience loss the same — and even people experiencing the loss of the same person or animal will experience that loss differently and process it differently. Still, having a support network by your side may help you work through your grief.

Most of these groups were founded, and continue to exist, as a way to smooth the way for people whose lives are upended by grief, by making access easy and fuss-free.

Support groups can offer less pressure for those trying to cope who feel it may be difficult to find a therapist. Yet, seeking help from a trained mental health professional or grief counselor could be an additional tool to cope with your grief.