When I spend time with others who are struggling with their loss, I will experience the frustration of knowing that I cannot change their loss into non-loss. As I see my loss reflected in how they are talking about theirs, I can see their pain and in helping them to bear their pain, I can begin to bear my own. I then see the pain and grief for what they are, and in naming the pain and grief, I can become more free.
As this quotation suggests, a group can help the bereaved person to move on. In confronting and sharing their grieving, they can begin to be free themselves from the world of loss. Yet, Maxwell adds, 'We are less familiar with groups for the bereaved, partly because we see bereavement as a very private affair, something to be worked through on our own' (1994).
Drawing largely on published material, the previous chapter (pp. 181-95) described the current provision of survivor groups in the UK and elsewhere and what is known about their effectiveness from the very few evaluations which have been undertaken. The aim of this chapter is to provide a more detailed introduction to suicide bereavement support groups and share the experiences of some existing groups. It draws on the work of a number of experienced facilitators in the UK, as well as the author's own experience of co-leading a suicide survivor group. In order to maintain confidentiality, contributions are quoted anonymously.
The terms 'leader' (or co-leader), and 'facilitator' (or co-facilitator) are used interchangeably in this chapter, reflecting the fact that both these terms are used in existing groups. In practice, those running groups are likely to be facilitating and leading at different times. Facilitation brings to the fore the idea of a shared experience, where, at different times and to a greater or lesser extent, everyone has input and everyone takes respon-sibility for what happens in that group. The facilitator's role is to help that process along. At other times, a leadership role will be more important-in