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Grief Resources  
 
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Grief is a difficult and painful process. A major loss often makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, to function in many areas, provoking as it does mental, emotional, and physical reactions as the entire body responds to the loss.

At a time of bereavement or other major loss, it is important that one practice patience, allowing time to heal and experience change. It is also important to avoid engaging in destructive behaviors--such as overindulging in alcohol, drugs, sex, spending, etc.--as a way to cope with or escape grief.

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Perhaps most of all, it is helpful to reach out to others for support and to express grief to sympathetic friends and professionals. Seeking support from others at a time of loss can allow grief to be experienced and released and can help forge rich connections with others by sharing a core experience.

There are many excellent resources, both general and specifically tailored for glbtq individuals, which can assist in the process of healing after a bereavement or other major loss.

Professional Counseling

Professional assistance can be extremely helpful after experiencing a loss. Major urban areas have counseling centers that seek to assist the glbtq community or community centers that can recommend grief counselors who work with glbtq clients.

In seeking a grief counselor, it is helpful to gather as much information as possible about potential counselors prior to the appointment. Ask if they are experienced in working with glbtq individuals. Ask if they understand sexual orientation and gender expression differences and are comfortable counseling within these areas.

There are many counselors who openly identify as glbtq individuals or who are glbtq-affirmative, and they often share this information with professional societies, glbtq organizations, or mental health referral sites.

Some counselors have religious views that are not supportive of glbtq individuals, and this issue should be explored with a potential counselor. This is especially true of religious counselors, including ministers, priests, and rabbis, some of whom support the practice of "reparative therapy." This unaccepted therapy, which has been denounced by the leading professional societies, seeks to change the individual's sexual orientation or gender expression and is potentially very harmful.

On the other hand, there are many affirmative religious institutions that offer supportive grief counseling. Metropolitan Community Church, United Church of Christ, Universalist Unitarian, as well as many individual congregations of other denominations and traditions, are just a few of the glbtq-affirmative religious organizations that offer grief counseling supportive of orientation and gender issues.

In rural areas or small towns, where discrimination may be more open and liberal religious resources scarce, glbtq individuals may find it difficult to find professional counselors and support groups who are knowledgeable about gender expression and sexual orientation, much less affirmative of glbtq individuals. But there are a number of other resources, including websites and books, that may prove helpful in dealing with grief, even if one does not have access to major metropolitan areas.

General Grief Websites:

An excellent website, ElisabethKublerRoss.com, was developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross prior to her death in 2004. The site has many excellent resources including newsletters, videos, referrals, and articles on grief and loss.

The Shiva Foundation, which was formed to open dialogue around issues of grief and loss in such a way that honors loss in the cycle of life, sponsors the website www.goodgrief.org. The Hindu god Shiva dances the cosmic dance of creation and destruction.

Griefsteps.com offers articles, books, online classes, and other resources.

The Grief Recovery Institute at grief-recovery.com offers information, handbooks, resources, and news to help individuals deal with grief.

GriefZone, at www.americanhospice.org, is an educational resource on death and loss that provides online articles and links. It is operated by the American Hospice Foundation.

Caring Connections at CaringInfo.org provides free resources on caregiving, finances, loss, and grief.

GrowthHouse.org offers information about end-of-life care, hospice and palliative care, grief, and related topics.

CompassionateFriends.org is a national nonprofit, self-help support organization that offers friendship and understanding to bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings related to the loss of a child.

GriefNet.org is a website dedicated to people coping with death, grief, and major loss. This site, directed by a psychologist, has over 60 e-mail support groups. Included is the support group KIDSAID for children dealing with grief.

Griefworks.org offers books, bereavement supplies, e-mail discussions, advice on ways to cope, and information on different types of grief.

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