Q1. How can I locate a support group where I live?


One of the quickest ways to find a group in your area is to call the pastoral care office of the largest hospital near you. They should have information about grief support groups for survivors of various kinds of loss. They can direct you to any existing groups for widows and widowers, parents of deceased children, survivors of AIDS deaths, etc. Also, many hospices have excellent grief groups with expert facilitators. To find the hospice nearest your home, the website of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

has a searchable database of affiliated hospices nationwide.

Q2. Our family wants to have a memorial for our mother who died. We'd like to have it on her birthday, which is in April. We know we want to invite relatives and her close friends but how do we go about getting them to participate? What kinds of things can we plan to do?

A2. Having such a gathering is a fine way to honor your mother. Those of you who are planning the memorial can meet beforehand and discuss any ways in which it can be personalized. (What were your mother's favorite flowers and foods? What were her special interests? What kind of music did she appreciate? What was her favorite color?) Together you can decide which of her favorites you'd like to incorporate into the celebration of her life.

You may like to send out a brief letter suggesting ways in which the family members and friends can contribute to the memorial. Encourage each person to bring a snapshot of your mother, if possible, or to write a one page anecdote from your mother's life (something she did or said that was particularly interesting, loving, funny or courageous, etc.).

People may also like to bring other mementos such as your mother's letters or recipes, or items your mother especially appreciated, or made herself. Let each person have a few moments to read or share what he or she has brought. You may like to have a bulletin board ready to pin up all the snapshots so they can be viewed easily by everyone. One of you could volunteer to compile all the anecdotes and photos into a scrapbook which can be photocopied and later distributed to those guests who express the wish to have a copy.

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