Grief and Loss

Often referred to as bereavement, meaning “to be deprived by death”, the loss and subsequent grief after the death of a loved one can elicit a range of emotions in all of us.  While some of these experiences are similar throughout the lifespan, it is important to consider the developmental stage in life as it relates to grief. For example, children's understanding of death and dying changes throughout their development and may influence the way they express their grief. Even very young children (under the age of 3) have reactions to the loss of a loved one. Although they don't have a cognitive understanding of death, they can be very sensitive to the reactions of those around them and may experience distress. As children grow and develop, their understanding of death and dying does as well. In addition, older adults experience grief and loss differently than their younger counterparts. For older adults, health problems, loss of independence, and other issues that go along with growing older can compound grief reactions.

What are some common grief responses?

It is important to know that the experience of grief is a natural reaction to the loss of a loved one. The loss of a loved one can be experienced in a multitude of ways that include emotional, physical, psychological, behavioral, and spiritual responses.

Emotional Responses

Shock or numbness may occur, regardless of the circumstance surrounding the death of a loved one, and is often the first stage of grief.  Grief does not proceed in any particular order, and often immediately following a death, individuals report feeling numb or disconnected from their feelings.  As the reality of the death is experienced, a range of emotions may arise, some more intense than others, and the feelings are a normal and expected part of the grieving process.

Resource Organizations » Grief and Loss » Acton-Boxborough

In Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Call2Talk

(508) 532-2255, TEXT C2T to 741741 (Crisis Text Line)

1-888-811-3291

Email: info@uwotc.org

Call2Talk is a confidential mental health and emotional support call line that assists individuals and families through stressful times in their lives, helping the despondent and those who may be suicidal. When calling Call2Talk, those who are struggling with mental health concerns have a safe place to call and will be encouraged to discuss their current experience. Some callers even talk openly about their thoughts of suicide and are in search of options.  By sharing their personal stories of tragedy, recovery, despair and grief, callers feel relief, comfort and hope.

Samaritans

(877)870-4673

617-536-2460

Email: info@samaritanshope.org

Samaritans’ Crisis Services are available 24 hours a day/seven days a week. If one is feeling isolated, desperate or uncertain about anything in your life, this orginization is here to  hear about it – contact us anytime. The services are free, confidential, and anonymous. There are Samaritans staff on-site 24 hours a day to support those who phone, chat or text our volunteers for help. Samaritans' Crisis Services include a 24-hour befriending service and online emotional support via text and phone call. 

Samaritans Hope

Statewide helpline: 877-870-4673, 24 hour helpline: 617-247-0220, 24 hour helpline: 508-875-4500, Office: 617-536-2460
Email: info@samaritanshope.org

Samaritans Hope works with families and friends who have experienced the loss of someone to suicide. They offer various services including SafePlace, which is an open group of caring people who have experienced the loss of a loved one to suicide.
SafePlace is not a professional therapy group; rather it is peer support. The facilitator is a trained Samaritan Befriender who has lost a loved one to suicide. Groups are currently available in Medford, Boston, South Boston, Quincy, Framingham and Worcester. Their website outlines specific times of the various meetings. They also offer Survivor to Survivor support in which trained volunteers, who have lost a loved one to suicide are available to to visit someone individually. Information is available about this service from the Director of Grief Support Services through their helpline or website as well. Finally, they offer a yearly Safeplace Memorial service for suicide survivors to honor those they have lost, which is typically held in January.

Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline

508-839-7966 Monday – Friday 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. EST; 24-Hour Voice Mail Calls will be returned during the next shift.
Email: Tuftspetloss@gmail.com

The Tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline seeks to serve the community-at-large by providing both a resource for people grieving the loss of a pet, and an opportunity for our veterinary students to acquire the skills needed for pet loss and grief counseling.The Tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline’s website also has resources on grieving.

Organizations without hotlines

Care Dimensions

855-774-5100

Email: Grief@CareDimensions.org

Since 1978, Care Dimensions has provided comprehensive and compassionate care for individuals and families dealing with life-threatening illnesses. As the non-profit leader in advanced illness care, it offers services to more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts. Care Dimensions help families understand what they’ve been going through, identify resources and provide options for learning more about grief and feelings, individually and in groups. Services include individual consultation and referrals, workshops and support groups, bereavement resources, community education programs, and remembrance and tribute programs.

Children's Friend

508-753- 5425

Email: info@childrensfriend.org

Children’s Friend has created that safe place. It’s called The Carriage House. The Carriage House is a grief support center for kids from 3 to 18 years old and their families. It is the only program of its kind in central Massachusetts.

At The Carriage House, we believe:

  • That grief is a natural, universal experience
  • That when kids are grieving, the adults who love them often don’t know how to help
  • That kids grieve in different ways, but that each child’s unique grief process should be respected and
  • That peer support is the best way to help a grieving child or teen process the emotions that follow the death of someone close.

 

Children's Room, Center for Grieving Children & Teenagers, Inc.

781-641-4741

Email: info@childrensroom.org

The mission of The Children's Room is to provide a safe and caring place where grieving children, teens, and families can receive peer support and the guidance of trained volunteers. The Children's Room enables these families to express their grief and to adapt to the many changes that accompany the death. We serve children from ages three to eighteen. Children meet with other children their age (such as teen to teen) with similar losses and meet in small groups to encourage sharing and strong connections. While the children are playing, talking and doing crafts together, the adults are meeting on their own with other parents/guardians who have experienced a loss.
Services are provided free of charge, although we invite families to make a voluntary donation. The Children's Room also has a Framingham location at 39 Edwards Street.

Comfort Zone Camp

Toll-free: 866-488-5679

MA local: 781-756-4840

Email: info@comfortzonecamp.org

Comfort Zone Camp is a nonprofit bereavement camp that transforms the lives of children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver. The free camps include confidence building programs and age-based support groups that break the emotional isolation grief often brings. Comfort Zone Camps are offered to children 7-17, and are held year-round in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Virginia.

Experience Journal

Email: ej@childrens.harvard.edu

The Experience Journals are designed to promote the healthy coping of children and their families who must contend with significant physical and emotional illnesses. The Experience Journals are collections of stories, pictures, and personal experiences from families about what it has been like to live with their children's illnesses. They represent the "collective wisdom" of these children and their parents as well as their health care providers.

Good Grief Program

617-414-4005

The Good Grief Program provides workshops throughout the state for schools, parents and community groups, crisis intervention and development of a crisis protocol to help children develop coping skills around death, dying and loss.
The CIRCLE, a project of The Good Grief Program, provides a comprehensive family bereavement support program after the death of a loved one. The CIRCLE has programs in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Hingham and a CIRCLE for families who had a loved one die on Sept. 11th.

Hello Grief

Email: HelloGrief@comfortzonecamp.org

Comfort Zone Camp, Inc. developed HelloGrief.org to start a discussion about the impact of loss, and how to help grieving persons cope; as well as build a community of support for those living with grief.

Jeff's Place

Office: 508-879-2800

Email: info@jeffsplacemetrowest.org

Jeff's Place offers bimonthly open-ended peer support groups for children ages 3-19 and their caregivers who are coping with the death of a loved one. The groups are free, dinner is included and are held either in Framingham or Wayland. In addition, Jeff's Place posts articles and resources on their website for children, adolescents and adults around grief and loss.

Learn To Cope

508-738-5148 (Main Office)

508-801-3247 (Peer Recovery Specialist)

Email: ltc@learn2cope.org

Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MADPH), LTC has grown to have a full-staff who collaborate with communities across the state to spread messages of prevention, education, awareness and advocacy. Learn to Cope has over 9,000 members on a private online forum, 25 chapters throughout Massachusetts and most recently 2 chapters in Florida and 1 in Boise, Idaho. LTC families receive unique support and education from professionals and their peers. 

Parents of Murdered Children

888-818-7662 National Chapter

978-452-5858 Merrimack Valley Chapter

508-477-6290 Southeastern MA Chapter

Email: natlpomc@pomc.org

POMC makes the difference through on-going emotional support, education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness. POMC provides support and assistance to all survivors of homicide victims while working to create a world free of murder.

The Massachusetts Center for Unexpected Infant and Child Death

(617) 414 - 7437

Email: magriefcenter@bmc.org

 

The Massachusetts Center for Unexpected Infant and Child Death supports families, communities, and professionals after an unexpected death during pregnancy, infancy, or early childhood. The Center's mission is to provide an individualized and compassionate response to bereaved families, offer integrated, meaningful, and professional resources, and help affected families and their communities grieve.

 

The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden

978-456-3532

The Healing Garden is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing therapeutic services, educational programs, and a healing environment to people affected by breast cancer. The Healing Garden community extends beyond thier clients to include families, friends, and caretakers. They offer:

  • Mind-body medicine for the relaxation and restoration of the body's energy flow.
  • Education about choices that contribute to health, such as offerings on nutrition, stress management, and exercise.
  • Expressive therapies for self-expression and processing/releasing emotions.
  • Modalities that help clients regain control of their lives, both during and after medical treatments. [from the website]

Outside Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

The Real Warriors Campaign

800-273-8255 press 1 (For crisis intervention)

866-966-1020 (For information and resources)

The Real Warriors Campaign is an initiative launched by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) to promote the processes of building resilience, facilitating recovery and supporting reintegration of returning service members, veterans and their families.

Organizations without hotlines

ACCESS (Air Craft Casualty Emotional Support Services)

877-227-6435

Email: info@accesshelp.org

ACCESS is an air disaster bereavement support network dedicated to connecting those who have survived or lost loved ones in private, military and commercial airplane crashes and other aviation tragedies with individuals who have lived through similar losses.

• We provide comfort and bereavement support through common understanding and shared experience by partnering survivors those who have lost loved ones in air disasters with trained Volunteer Grief Mentors who have been through a similar experience.

• We provide sensitivity training presentations and workshops to companies, agencies and airlines who work with those affected by aviation disasters.

• We provide consulting services to companies and airlines that respond to individuals affected by air disasters

Actively Moving Forward

1-888-489-9654 (Voicemail Line: 24-hour response time)

Actively Moving Forward is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young adults grieving the illness or death of a loved one. The organization accomplishes its mission by creating Actively Moving Forward Campus Chapters on college campuses nationwide that connect and empower grieving college students to support one another and participate in community service in memory of deceased loved ones, raising awareness about the needs of grieving young adults, including through the annual National College Student Grief Awareness Week, and hosting national grief support programs, such as the “We Get It” Supportive Blog, and events, such as the National Conference on College Student Grief. We also support non-collegiate young adults by creating a wealth of virtual information, programming, and community.

American Association of Suicidology

(202) 237-2280

The American Association of Suicidology works to promote the understanding and prevention of suicide and support those who have been affected by it.  This organization provides training for a diverse audience from primary care practitioners, to students, and school staff.  This organization applies research in developing and disseminating strategies that reduce the incidence and prevalence of suicidal behaviors as well as compiling, developing, evaluating and disseminating accurate information about suicidal behaviors to the public.  In addition to their research, training and prevention efforts, the AAS also has information for those who have survived suicide attempts, or those who are suicide loss survivors.  Their website includes a list of finding support groups for suicide loss survivors in their area.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

1-888-333-AFSP (2377)

(212) 363-3500

Email: info@afsp.org

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention compiles resources for survivors of suicide loss.  The resources include books, poetry, and inspirational writing for children, adolescents, and adults.  AFSP also comples a newsletter and comments on current and relevant media topics.

Amputee Coalition

888-267-5669

Amputee Coalition empowers people affected by limb loss to achieve their full potential through education, support and advocacy, and to promote limb loss prevention. 

Bereaved Parents of the USA

501-847-4102 (Chapter Development or Chapter Inquiries)

Bereaved Parents of the USA (BP/USA) is dedicated to offering support, understanding, encouragement and hope to bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents. It provides aid and support for those who are suffering the loss of a child, brother, sister or grandchild. BP/USA educates families about the grief process in all its complexities pertaining to the death of a child at any age and from any cause. The organization provides telephone numbers and email addresses of other bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents who are able to offer support to other more newly bereaved families. Chapters across the country hold monthly chapter meetings where sharing, support and encouragement can be provided. BP/USA produces a National Newsletter and individual chapter newsletters to aid with grief work. It also holds an Annual Gathering where helpful speakers, workshops, sharing sessions and much more will be provided. The BP/USA websites offers articles and other resources on family bereavement.

Best Grief Books

650-793-0868

Email: info@bestgriefbooks.com

Stories are how we make sense of the world. When you read a book, watch a movie or listen to an audio—you expand your potential for healing.

Books, movies and audios help:

  • Unlock hidden feelings

  • Encourage insight and self-awareness

  • Stimulate dialogue

  • Provide reassurance

  • Offer hope

  • Promote continuity between sessions

Centering Corporation

866-218-0101

The Centering Corporation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and resources for the bereaved. Centering was founded in 1978 by Joy and Dr. Marvin Johnson.

We started with nine little coloring books for hospitalized children and two workshop offerings for nurses and families. In response to the need for support by families and caregivers while facing their grief experience we developed many new resources.

Today we publish hundreds of books for children and adults, plus thousands of books and resources from other publishers. We continue to provide educational offerings and workshops for caregivers and families. Our experienced staff brings new life and ideas to meet our changing needs in today's bereavement experiences.

Compassionate Friends: Supporting a Family after a Child Dies

(877) 969-0010

When a child dies, at any age, the family suffers intense pain and may feel hopeless and isolated. The Compassionate Friends provides highly personal comfort, hope, and support to every family experiencing the death of a son or a daughter, a brother or a sister, or a grandchild, and helps others better assist the grieving family.

The Compassionate Friends offers "virtual chapters" through an Online Support Community (live chats). This program was established to encourage connecting and sharing among parents, grandparents, and siblings (over the age of 18) grieving the death of a child. The rooms supply support, encouragement, and friendship. The friendly atmosphere encourages conversation among friends; friends who understand the emotions you're experiencing. There are general bereavement sessions as well as more specific sessions.

Family Lives On Foundation

610.458.1690

Email: info@familyliveson.org

Family Lives On Foundation supports the lifelong emotional well-being of children whose mother or father has died. The Tradition Program provides opportunities for intentional remembering, creating a safe haven for grief, communication and celebration. It serves all children ages 3-18 regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, or the cause of the parent’s death.

 

Geriatric Mental Health Foundation

(703) 556-9222

Email: web@GMHFonline.org

The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation was established by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry to raise awareness of psychiatric and mental health disorders affecting the elderly, eliminate the stigma of mental illness and treatment, promote healthy aging strategies, and increase access to quality mental health care for the elderly. Explore the site for mental health information for older adults and their families, to find a geriatric psychiatrist, for news of Foundation programs and events, and much more.

Grief Haven

(310) 459-1789

Email: hope@griefHaven.org

The Erika Whitmore Godwin Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation dedicated to assisting parents who have lost a child, as well as family members, friends, professionals, and those who want to lend their support but don't know how.

Hospice Foundation of America

202-457-5811

800-854-3402

Email: hfaoffice@hospicefoundation.org

In 1990, with the help of a significant gift from Hospice Care, Inc., the Foundation expanded its scope to a national level in order to provide leadership in the entire spectrum of end-of-life issues. The Foundation board is a distinguished group of health policy experts which guide the Foundation as it explores efforts to: become a center of neutral, creative thinking on end-of-life issues for policy makers and opinion molders, raise the visibility and credibility of hospice in general, and become an advocate for those principles of hospice which may enhance the medical system in general.

Mental Health America

Toll-Free: 800-969-6642

Office: 703-684-7722

TTY: 800-433-5959

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With more than 320 affiliates nationwide, they represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation -- everyday and in times of crisis.

Military OneSource

800-342-9647

Your search stops here – click around for answers to the military life questions you didn't even know to ask. Military OneSource is your central hub and go-to-place for the military community. Find information about casualty assistance and surviving loss of a service member.

My Grief Angels

My Grief Angels is an interest-based community network and Mobile App that enables each of us who has lost a loved one to join a mobile village of people grieving or who have grieved to make sure no one who is grieving is ever alone; regardless of where they find themselves in this world.

Free Online Grief Support Network, Community & Mobile App BY & FOR People Grieving - 501(c}(3) Public Charity

National Alliance for Grieving Children

866-432-1542

The National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) provides a network for nationwide communication between hundreds of children's bereavement support professionals and volunteers who want to share ideas, information and resources with each other to better support the families they serve in their own communities. Through this network, the NAGC offers online education, hosts an annual symposium on children's grief, maintains a national data base of children's bereavement support programs and promotes national awareness to enhance public sensitivity to the issues impacting grieving children and teens.

Sesame Street: When Families Grieve

Email: grief@sesameworkshop.org

Grief is complex; it encompasses a wide range of emotions that can come and go in waves. Sesame Street has created tips, videos, children's story, and guide to help your family communicate with one another, express emotions, and begin the process of moving forward.   Information in the toolkit includes coloring books, a children's book, a caregiver's guide to grief, and videos are available online where Sesame Street characters discuss losing a loved one.  All materials can be downloaded from their website or ordered from Sesame Street.

Sudden Unexplained Death In Childhood (SUDC) Foundation

800.620.SUDC

973.239.4849

Email: info@sudc.org

The Sudden Unexplained Death In Childhood (SUDC) Foundation is tasked with providing a centralized resource for information, research, support and advocacy. It serves families and professionals affected by the tragedy of SUDC, and promotes awareness of SUDC in communities.

Survivors of Suicide Loss

(619) 482-0297 (Support Line)

(619) 752-4055 (Office Line)

Email: info@SOSLsd.org

SOSL reaches out to and supports those that have lost a loved one to suicide. Our goal is to give survivors a place where they can be comfortable expressing themselves, a place to find support, comfort, resources and hope in a judgment-free environment.

Currently, SOSL is earnestly involved in educating the community about suicide and its effect on surviving family and friends ‐ providing information about grief‐related services. From its inception, the SOSL group goal has been to provide a relaxed, caring environment of mutual support and understanding in which to give comfort and help to one another ‐ a place to regain our sense of hope for future happiness.

 

The Association for Death Education and Counseling

847-686-2240

The Association for Death Education and Counseling®, The Thanatology Association®, is one of the oldest interdisciplinary organizations in the field of dying, death and bereavement. Its nearly 2,000 members include a wide array of psychologists, counselors, social workers, educators, researchers, hospice personnel, clergy, and volunteers.The primary goal of ADEC is to enhance the ability of professionals to meet the needs of those with whom they work in death education and grief counseling. Their website includes an extensive list of resources on coping with loss.

The Dougy Center

toll free: 866-775-5683

Email: help@dougy.org

The Dougy Center provides a safe place for children, teens, young adults and their families who are grieving a death to share their experiences. We do this through peer support groups, education, and training.

The Moyer Foundation

847-686-2240

The mission of The Moyer Foundation is to provide comfort, hope and healing to children and families affected by grief and addiction. Our innovative resources and programs address the critical needs of children experiencing powerful, overwhelming and often confusing emotions associated with the death of someone close to them or substance abuse in their family. No child should have to face these struggles alone, and our unique programs bring kids together to ease their pain and provide the tools to help restore hope.