Grief is a natural response to the loss of someone or something very dear to us.  Anyone can experience grief and loss, but each person is unique in how he or she copes with these feelings. The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Most especially, support from those with experience in dealing with personal loss can help ease the pain and promote healing.  Resources for such grief support are provided on this page.

Note: Because grief is a normal emotional reaction, it is not a pathological condition.  Individuals experience and express such losses in their own way and time, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  But there are more healthy or helpful means of expressing and coping with the painful feelings, ones that eventually allow healing and recovery.  It’s normal to feel sad, numb, or angry following a major loss such as the death of a loved one.  Feelings of grief can linger long after the loss, arising during anniversaries or at unexpected times.  But eventually, these emotions become less intense as you accept the loss and start to move forward.  If your grief-related thoughts, behaviors, or feelings are extremely distressing, unrelenting, or interfering with daily functioning for an extended period of time, it can be a sign that your grief has developed into a more serious problem, such as complicated grief or major depression.  Whether your grief is new, or has not eased over time and is becoming a concern, it can be helpful to seek support from persons or organizations experienced in the grief process.

Grief Support Resources in Santa Clara County

Center for Living with Dying – Call: 408-243-0222
The Centre for Living with Dying provides individual and small group emotional support to adults and children facing life-threatening illness or the trauma of having a loved one die.  Fees are on a sliding scale.  The Centre offers support groups that address the following topics:

  • Dimensions of Grief – Dimensions of Grief is intended for adults who have experienced the loss of a loved one.
  • Healing Heart – The Healing Heart group is intended for families with children who have lost a loved one. This program offers grief groups for youth ages 5-17, as well as parent/caregiver groups to assist adults supporting children through the grieving process. Sessions are once a week for 9 weeks.
  • Holiday Drop-In Group – The Holiday Group is intended for those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one over the holiday season.
  • Living with the Death of a Parent – Living with the Death of a Parent is intended for individuals who have experienced the death of a parent.
  • Living with the Death of a Partner / Spouse – Living with the Death of a Partner or Spouse is intended for individuals who have experienced the loss of a partner or spouse.
  • HIV / AIDS Rejuvenation Retreat – Three times a year, the Centre for Living with Dying hosts an HIV / AIDS Rejuvenation Retreat. The retreat is open to anyone living with, caretaking for, or affected by HIV / AIDS. The retreat is meant to be a day of relaxation and support for participants and is free to join.
  • Crisis Incident Stress Management TeamThe Bay Area Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Team will respond with immediate support and intervention, provided in both a group and individual setting, during incidents where there has been a death or other traumatic, life-threatening event.  First responders, such as police, fire, paramedic, dispatch, hospital and social services personnel receive support professionally and in their personal lives. The Bay Area CISM Team provides crisis intervention to our community as well, when there has been a death or critical incident in our schools, neighborhoods, businesses or community agencies. 

Hospice of the Valley – Call: 408-559-5600   Email: info@hospicevalley.org
The Hospice of the Valley Center for Grief and Loss offers a grief counseling program run by licensed therapists (with sliding scale fees):

  • Individual grief support sessions with professionally trained therapists or supervised Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees/Interns
  • Grief support groups – groups are offered regularly for spousal or partner loss (age specific), child loss, adult/parent loss, suicide loss and grieving children. Additional groups are offered as necessary and individual assessments are required.
  • Living with an illness support groups
  • Educational sessions
  • Annual memorial service events
  • Getting through the holidays workshop
  • Biannual Children’s Night Out Program

KARA – Call 650-321-5272, 650-473-1828 fax, or Submit Online Form
457 Kingsley Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
Located in the North Bay/Palo Alto – Kara provide supports for adults, children and organizations anticipating or grieving a death. Kara’s group and one-to-one peer support services are donation-based and Kara’s therapy services are provided for a reasonable fee.

  • Peer Counseling – Adults can receive individual sessions with one of Kara’s volunteer peer counselors.
  • Peer Support Groups – Regularly scheduled ongoing groups as well as drop-in adult grief groups are offered for specific losses such as suicide, adult siblings, spouse/partner, parents grieving the death of a child.
  • Grief Therapy – Fee-based professional psychotherapy is offered to bereaved adults, teens, children, couples and families whose loss is complicated by higher degrees of trauma, and/or additional relational or emotional circumstances. A sliding scale fee is charged for this service.
  • Camp Erin – a free, weekend grief camp designed for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a family member or friend
  • Crisis Support – Kara offers on-site crisis support services to schools, community organizations and businesses to help process their grief when a death has occurred or is anticipated.

Pathways Hospice – Call: 888.755.7855   Email: bereavement@pathwayshealth.org
Pathways opens its bereavement services to anyone in the community in need of this support, whether they had hospice care or not.  Although our bereavement support is free, we encourage donations to the Pathways Foundations to ensure that we can always continue to provide grief.  Pathways has an array of bereavement services to help people as they navigate this new territory without their loved one.

  • Support Groups – Pathways has support groups for spouses, for adults who lose parents, for loss of a child, and drop-in groups.
  • Workshops – Throughout the summer Pathways offers healing workshops.  They may be about journal writing, meditation, or assembling a memorial garden, or it may be a group walk.
  • Memorial Events – Celebration of Light Each year in early December is a beautiful and moving remembrance event warmed with music, readings, and a candle-lighting ceremony.  Evening of Remembrance Late spring is a busy time of year with graduations, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day, but these occasions may be acute reminders of the absence of loved ones. .
  • Counseling – 1-to-1 counseling.  We have trained grief counselors in each of our offices that can give this kind of support.

GriefShare – Call: 800-395-5755  Email: info@griefshare.org
GriefShare offers Christian Support for those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. The Support Groups meet weekly. They offer a compassionate community of support . The Support Groups include three elements: Video Seminar from experts, Group discussion and Personal Study for Reflection. Find the GriefShare nearest to you.

The Compassionate Friends of Santa Clara County  Call: 408-249-9570   Email: judy@lombardodrilling.com
National TCF Website: http://www.compassionatefriends.org
If you are a member (or a friend) of a family that has suffered the death of a child, The Compassionate Friends is here to help you and provide support for the family.  Feel free to contact TCF’s National Office at 877-969-0010 or nationaloffice@compassionatefriends.org.

  • Santa Clara Monthly Support Group (for people who have suffered the death of a child) – 1st Tuesday of each month, 7:30 pm at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 1957 Pruneridge Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95050.  Contact: 408-249-9570  or Email: judy@lombardodrilling.com

Discovery Counseling – Call: 408-778-5120
16275 Monterey Road Suite C, Morgan Hill, Ca 95037

Issue-Specific Grief Support

Suicide       

    * Note: These support groups are for people who are grieving loved ones who died via suicide (not for people who have themselves attempted suicide)

Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention and Crisis Survivors of Suicide Group
Contact Eddie Subega: (408) 885-6216  
Free weekly suicide support group offered by Santa Clara County Behavioral Health.  Participants are welcome on a drop in basis after talking to the contact person.

Hospice of the Valley Suicide Loss Support Group
Call: (408) 559-5600   Email:  info@hospicevalley.org
This weekly suicide support groups is offered in repeating 6-week sessions, facilitated by a licensed MFT.  There is a sliding scale fee.

Holy Spirit Church “Out of the Wilderness” suicide support group
Contact Leah Harris: (408) 997-5110 or (408) 997-5110 or lharris@dsj.org
Holy Spirit Church 1200 Redmond Av., San Jose
Free support group for those experiencing bereavement through death by suicide. There is no charge, and the group is open to all who have suffered loss and grief through the death of another by suicide. This weekly group is offered in repeating 6-week sessions.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has an excellent website for information, resources, support referrals, and other ways to cope with a suicide loss.

Death from Substance/Drug Overdose

GRASP (Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing) was created to offer understanding, compassion, and support for those who have lost someone they love through addiction and overdose.  GRASP offers support, direction and a helping hand via the GRASP Facebook group, and through local chapter groups.

GRASP Los Altos Chapter Support Group
2nd Wednesday of each month, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Pre-registration is required for new attendees! Please contact chapter facilitator to register and to get exact location.
Contact: Elizabeth Showecker  (650) 793-2359 or eshow818@gmail.com

Violent Death/Murder

The National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children is a national non-profit self-help organization designed solely to offer emotional support and information about surviving the loss of a loved one to murder.  The POMC Peninsula/South Bay Chapter serves Santa Clara County residents.

Parents of Murdered Children Peninsula/South Bay Support Group
2nd Monday of Month, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
The Center for Creative Living, 1460 Koll Circle #C, San Jose, CA 95112   (Please park and enter in back for easy access)
Contact: Claudia Place  (831) 426-0874, or southbaypomc@hotmail.com

Neonatal Death

Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND) –

  • Call 1 (888) 908-HAND (4263)  to leave a confidential voice mail.  A HAND volunteer who is also a bereaved parent will try to call back within 24 – 72 hours.
  • HAND support group meetings for Santa Clara County take place the first and third Thursdays of each month starting at 7:30 pm, at Columbia Mission Oaks Hospital, 15891 Los Gatos-Almaden Road, Los Gatos, California 95032-3742

On-line Grief Support Resources

HelpGuide.org Coping with Grief and Loss – A comprehensive article on understanding the grief process.  It describes grief and its common symptoms, myths and facts, tips on coping with grief and when to seek help.

The Grief Toolbox: A comprehensive resource for people experiencing grief. Articles, other resources, and an online art gallery help support individuals in the grieving process. The Grief Toolbox also provides a support group locator.

Life after Loss: Dealing with Grief – Guide to coping with grief and loss, including normal grief reactions to expect. (University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center)

Major Depression and Complicated Grief – Lists the warning signs and symptoms that suggest grief has progressed to major depression or complicated grief. (American Cancer Society)

Grieving.comA forum resource for people to connect with others and share stories of loss and healing. The forum has more than 45,000 active members and features topics ranging from terminal illness and sudden death to the loss of a pet.

Recover From Grief – Provides valuable information about the grieving process as well as coping strategies. Site visitors can view a comprehensive “grief guidebook” and participate in a seven-part grief work e-course. Recover From Grief also provides a space to create memorials for loved ones or tell personal stories, and offers a “grief relief” audio program.

The Compassionate Friends – A nationwide nonprofit organization,  designed to support and give resources to families who are coping with the death of a child. In addition to its wealth of information about healing grief, TCF holds national and regional conferences, facilitates online and in-person support groups for grieving families, and broadcasts a weekly web-radio series.

National Alliance for Grieving Children – A nationwide platform that connects professionals, consumers, and volunteers whose mission is to support children and teens through the grieving process. NAGC offers online education, a searchable support group database, and hosts an annual symposium about child grief.

Bereaved Parents of the USA – Group that connects grieving parents with other bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings for one-on-one support. The site offers a newsletter, articles and poems, and many resources and links for grieving families to guide them through the grieving process. It also hosts an annual gathering where bereaved parents can share their stories with others and participate in grief workshops.

On Being Alone: A Guide for the Newly Widowed – Contains a comprehensive series of articles on grief and loss offering practical, as well as psychological advice. (AARP)

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – National group that funds research, offers educational programs, advocates for public policy, and supports those affected by suicide.