Bereavement Support Groups for Natural and Accidental Death

Our Guided Support Group Program is a seven week program. It is held semi-annually in the Spring and Fall. Contact Jack Shaw for information about the next scheduled event: 412-508-5383 or Email:

In addition to the seven week programs, Lifeline of Listening Friends holds informal monthly support group meetings for those grieving the loss of a loved one. Call Jack Shaw for information: 412-508-5383.

The Bereavement Process

No one can really know how you feel when someone you love dies. The emotional pain can be quite intense at times, especially when you feel that no one understands what you are going through and there is no one to share your grief.

Grieving is a part of the human experience. A person attached to someone will mourn the loss of that relationship and miss that person’s physical presence. We understand this to be a basic truth of what it means to be human. It is also a path that most of us must travel during our lifetime and for some of us – a path we must walk several times. However, it helps if you walk it with “Listening Friends.”

The Healing Pathway

The “Healing Pathway” is a metaphor to give us a common language for talking about the grieving process expressed in several phases or experiences of the Healing Pathway.


In the Healing Pathway we explain that the first experience is one of shock. The numbness associated with this can actually be very helpful as it gives us time to cope. This is the time when a grieving person is often described as on “autopilot” to manage life’s everyday tasks. In addition to the feeling of numbness, shock is often characterized as disbelief that the loss actually occurred and a searching behavior is quite common. (Looking for the loved one in crowds or in familiar places. Shock can last a few days or longer depending on each person.


When shock gradually wears off, and reality sets in, we enter a phase called “disorganization”. It is the phase that takes longest to emerge from and is a place where everyone in the grieving process returns to time and time again with diminishing intensity and duration. Disorganization is characterized by the feelings of the full impact of the loss. Yearning, missing, sadness, heavy-heartedness are all common feelings. People also may experience a mixed bag of feelings and emotions including: relief, fear of life alone without the loved one, and/or anger at the loved one for dying and anger at God for allowing it to happen. Other symptoms may be eating or sleeping disorders, general lethargy or lack of energy, and distancing one from friends.


This is characterized by emerging from the fog of disorganization. The lines between these two phases are fluid, and there is a great deal of going back and forth. People in this phase of reorganization are able to transcend their physical experience of grief and allow the transformation process of their life’s journey of growth and greater awareness to continue. They are now able to have balanced memories of their loved one and they are able to return to their previous levels of functioning and may even develop a new sense of purpose in life based upon their experience of going through the grieving process.

The purpose of the Healing Pathway is to help people arrive at their “New Normal.” Nothing will ever be the same or as normal as it was – but there will be a New Normal and a new you. It must be understood that “New Normal” is unique to each individual. Each person has a unique way of being in the world. My New Normal will be right for me – your New Normal will be what is right for you. Developing your New Normal – a relatively comfortable way of living in this world without the physical presence of our loved one – is the goal of the Healing Pathway.

Love and Suffering:

“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering because those we most love – causes us not only great joy – but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving…and the pain of leaving can tear us apart.

Still, if we want to avoid suffering of the leaving – we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair.

We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.” – Henri J.M. Nouwen


(412) 508-5383


5642 Hampton Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
United States of America