Support Groups are weekly meetings where the bereaved can get together to share, learn and minister to one another. Each session generally lasts from 90 minutes to two hours. Ideally, the group should serve both purposes of emotional support and education. The structure can be close-ended or open-ended. Close-ended means the group exists for a time period only and people enter and leave at the same time. Open-ended means people can come and go as the group serves their needs. GGP Outreach prefers to have open-ended groups as people do not have to wait to join the group when they are in need of help and support.
Our Support Groups operate on a 12 or 13-week cycle basis. When a person misses the earlier sessions, he or she can come back for the next season. From experience, many will stay back even for the sessions that they have already attended in the first season and find refreshing insights and additional comfort for themselves.
It does not really mater what the size of the group is. We find that a comfortable size is 10 to 20 people excluding the leader and two or three facilitators to lead in small group ministry.
Below are some guidelines for conducting a Support Group:
1. Information shared must stay within the group.
2. Everyone must be given the opportunity to share.
3. New members joining the group must be made to feel welcomed.
4. We must not lose sight that the purpose of the Support Group is for sharing, learning and ministering to one another. The meetings must not degenerate to a pity-party or social-activity club.
5. Everyone’s loss is important and unique. We must not compare our losses, especially in terms of whose loss is bigger.
6. For anyone who talks too much or dominates the discussions, it is the duty of the leader or session facilitator to advise him or her to scale down.
Participants of a Support Group watching a DVD teaching video on how to grieve.
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