The National Directory of Bereavement Support Groups and Services, my first book, published in 1995, received wonderful reviews and was awarded the “Best New Directory of the Year, First Edition” by the SIMBA Directory Publishing Association. It took phone and mail research over a 9 month period, a wonderful database programmer and graphic designer to pull it together.
With the internet, the print edition was less needed. But I still keep the national listings current because from there, you can find help in your community.
Over the past 25+ years I’ve been in the bereavement field, as well as so many personal losses, the frequent question I get is this…is it more effective to go to a support group vs. a therapist.
Both have their pros and cons. But my recommendation is this…start with the support groups I’ve listed here. Find the one that best suits your needs and call their national office. Ask for the closest group or contact person.
No one will ever understand and empathize with you more than another individual who has gone through the exact type of grief you are now experiencing.
Later, if you get stuck or you feel the need to have someone there for you every week, search for a competent therapist who specializes in grief therapy. Nothing is more frustrating when you realize you’re paying a therapist to give them on-the-job training. You find yourself teaching them more than they’ve helped you.
So here is a list of national organizations that can lead you to support groups or contact persons in your area. There is no fee to participate or use their services, although please consider giving a donation to sustain their important, often volunteer, work.
24 Hour Hotlines
The mission of these dedicated people, at the other end of these hotlines, is to help you through a difficult time. Whether you’re depressed, feeling hopeless and helpless, suicidal, or need to simply talk through a horrible day when you’re in crisis, I encourage you to take advantage of their help. Your conversations are confidential and will help alleviate your stress. Talking it out will help you feel you’ve been heard and give you perspective about whatever you are going through.
Working with the Samaritans, here you will find an excellent comprehensive list of crisis helplines and centers both internationally and within the USA.
CBN 700 Club
Virginia Beach, VA
Trained volunteers listen to your pain, pray with you and offer hope from a Christian perspective.
Offers referrals to local hotlines throughout the United States, which provide trained volunteers to listen to your pain 24 hours a day as well as support group and counseling referrals in your community.
Girls and Boys Town National Hotline USA
Boys Town, NE
Trained volunteers assist young people and their parents with their problems 24 hours per day, every day.
National Hopeline Network
(800) SUICIDE / (800) 273-8255
An excellent comprehensive website to suicide hotlines in the United States, Canada and other international countries and toll-free immediate assistance. You do not need to be suicidal to speak with their counselors. If you are having a challenging day, they are happy to listen. They can also refer you to help in your community for your specific type of grief.
TeenLine Hotline Help Center
Located in Southern California, assistance is available to teens Monday through Saturday, 4:00 pm to 10 pm Pacific Time.
Youth America Hotline
(877) 968-8454 / (877) YOUTHLINE
Peer to Peer hotline network which links callers to community-based peer counseling hotlines
throughout the USA. Offers live chat with professional trained crisis prevention counselor.
Death of a Child
Alive Alone, Inc.
Van Wert, OH
Network of parents whose only child or all their children have died.
Bereaved Parents of the USA
Park Forest, IL and Lewisburg, WV
Offers information, referrals, newsletter, phone support and conferences for families grieving the death of a child.
Committee to Halt Useless College Killings
Supports families whose child has died through hazing or alcohol on college campuses.
The Compassionate Friends
Oak Brook, IL
(630) 990-0010 / (877) 969-0010
Assists families who have experienced the death of a child in any manner. Support groups and contact persons nationwide.
Death of an Infant Child
Center for Loss in Multiple Birth (CLIMB), Inc.
(907) 746-6123 / (907) 274-7029
Support by and for parents who have experienced the death of one or more, both or all twins, triplets or higher multiples during pregnancy, at birth, in infancy or in childhood.
Assists families whose infant has died from stillbirth, crib death/SIDS, or other sudden unexpected infant death. Referrals to local affiliate support groups and contact persons nationwide.
Christian organization for those who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or other infant loss.
Mothers in Sympathy and Support (MISS)
(623) 979-1000 / (888) 455-MISS
Assistance for those who have experienced miscarriage and infant death.
SHARE Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support, Inc.
St. Charles, MO
(800) 821-6819 / (636) 947-6164
Provides support and the positive resolution of grief following the death of a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or neonatal death. Referrals to support groups and contact persons nationwide.
Air Craft Casualty Emotional Support Services (ACCESS)
New York, NY
Assists families and friends of air disaster victims and survivors.
Offers seminars and referrals to support groups in the USA from a Christian perspective.
Twinless Twins Support Group, International
Offers support to twins and all multiple births, who have suffered the death of their twin, triplet, etc. Assists in networking with others who share common experiences. Publishes newsletter.
Wings of Light, Inc.
Assists survivors of aircraft accidents and those who have lost loved ones in aircraft accidents. Networking with others nationwide who have experienced similar loss.
Foundation for Grieving Children, Inc.
www.foundationforgrievingchildren.org and www.foundationforgrievingchildren.org/blog
Founded by MaryMac, the F4GC is the first national public charity whose mission is to raise funds and provide grants to community-based organizations which assist, educate, counsel and comfort children, teens, young adults and their families after a loved one’s death, regardless of their manner of death. Visit the F4GC’s blog for updated news on their activities.
Safe place for children and teens to share their feelings with each other through email support groups.
National Center for Grieving Children and Families
Associated with the Dougy Center, offers training programs for individuals and organizations who wish to serve the emotional needs of grieving children.
Homicide/Vehicular Homicide/Military Death
Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS)
Assists families whose loved ones were killed in the line of duty. Support groups and contact persons nationwide.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
(800) 438-6233 / (214) 744-6233
Assists those who have experienced the drunk driving death of a family member or friend. Referrals to support groups and contact persons nationwide.
National Organization for Victim Assistance
(800) 879-6682 / (703) 535-6682
Offers crisis intervention, counseling, crisis response training and technical assistance for victims and survivors of violent crimes and disasters.
Parents of Murdered Children
Assists families after the murder of a loved one. Referrals to support groups and contact persons.
RID-USA, Inc. (Remove Intoxicated Drivers)
RID Victim Center
(518) 372-0034 / 393-HELP
Referrals to support group meetings and contact persons who have experienced the death of a loved one in a drunk driving crash.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS)
Anchorage, AK and Washington, DC
(800) 959-8277 / (202) 588-8277
Provides peer support for survivors of military line-of-duty deaths. Referrals to support groups and contact persons nationwide.
Organ Tissue Donation
National Donor Family Council / National Kidney Foundation
New York, NY
(800) 622-9010 or (212) 889-2210
Offers education and bereavement support group referrals for those who have become donor families.
These organizations assist adults and children whose precious pet is either terminally ill or has died.
ASPCA Pet Loss Support Hotline
New York, NY
Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline
Available for calls Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 9:00 pm EST.
Iams Pet Loss Support Center and Hotline
This manufacturer of premium pet food offers assistance for grieving pet lovers Monday through Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm EST.
Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Pet Loss Support Hotline
East Lansing, MI
Available for calls Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 – 9:30 pm EST. Summer Hours: Tuesday and Thursdays, same hours.
Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline
North Grafton, MA
Available for calls Monday through Friday evenings from 6:00 – 9:00 pm EST. Summer hours vary; call for further information.
University of Florida Pet Loss Support Hotline
Leave a message and someone will call you back within 24 hours. Weekend calls will be returned on Mondays.
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine
C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Support Hotline
(877) 394-2273 / (217) 244-2273
Available for calls Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 9:00 pm EST.
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Pet Loss Support
(866) 266-8635 / (509) 335-5704
Phones are staffed Monday through Thursday and Saturdays PST. You may leave a message 24 hour per day and it will be returned as soon as possible.
American Association of Suicidology
(800) SUICIDE / (202) 237-2280
Offers referrals to suicide survivor groups nationwide. (800) SUICIDE provides toll-free, 24-hour access to crisis intervention/suicide prevention services.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
New York, NY
Provides information and referrals to survivor support groups nationwide.
Friends for Survival, Inc.
Publishes newsletter. Offers referrals to local support groups and resources.
Colorado Springs, CO
Referrals to Heartbeat chapters and counseling resources for survivors of a loved one’s suicide.
Suicide Information and Education Centre (SIEC)
Calgary, AB, Canada
SIEC is a special library and resource center providing support group referrals and information to survivors of suicide.
National Association of Military Widows
Provides referral services and support groups to the newly widowed.
Society of Military Widows
Serves the interests of women whose military husbands have died.
The Widowed Persons Service
AARP/American Association of Retired Persons
Offers support groups and contact persons nationwide to assist those who have been widowed.
Please send any updates to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.