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Support Groups

Support Groups

This page provides an overview of the different types of support services available following your loss. We have included some groups specific to the loss of a partner, loss of a child or sudden death.

There are many charities, organisations, and religious institutions offering both individual and family counselling. Helplines and in-person support groups for bereaved families may be government funded or subsidised, and others, you will need to pay for privately. Find out more about counselling.

Online communities

You will find many different Facebook groups and pages dedicated to providing support to people experiencing grief and loss in different regions, age groups and scenarios. Whether you attend in-person support groups or counselling or not, these groups can sometimes provide comfort, someone to talk to, and a place to share your thoughts and feelings no matter where you are or the time of day. If you can’t find a Facebook group that you want to join, you could consider starting one yourself.

Recognising depression

Not everyone that grieves will experience depression, but grief can sometimes trigger depression. Read more about understanding grief.

People with depression feel this way almost all of the time, whereas those that are grieving will experience it in waves. They will begin to isolate themselves, whereas those that are grieving will accept some support from loved ones. Those suffering with depression may experience debilitating symptoms that mean they cannot function in normal ways like going to work or socialising.

If you feel that you may be experiencing depression contact your GP, or the Depression Helpline by calling 0800 111 757 or texting 4202.

Losing a child

When a child dies there are likely to be a few different organisations and groups that the family will be in contact with that are able to offer support. These vary depending on the circumstances, whether the death was due to prolonged ill-health or a sudden death. Find out more about what happens when a baby dies.

Healthcare providers

If a baby or child has passed away due to ill-health, whether that is sudden or after a period of prolonged illness, the healthcare team will answer any questions you have about what happened and why, offering you information and support in the first few days following your loss. They may also follow-up with you in the weeks following your loss or refer you to follow-on support services.

Funeral directors

When a child dies unexpectedly and the police are involved, they may call a duty funeral director to take the child to the hospital, this is a free service. It is up to the family if they would like to continue to use a funeral director, if they do, then the family is responsible for paying for their service. They will offer as much support as required in arranging the funeral, arranging for family to see the child, giving information about requirements and legal processes, and providing information about applying for financial assistance.

Support groups run by other bereaved parents

Losing a child is a pain like no other. Often, it can help bereaved parents to be able to speak about their child and their loss with people who have gone through similar experiences.

  • The Sudden Infant Death Peer Support group has a 24-hour free to call helpline. Call 0800 164 455 to find peer support near you.
  • Heart Song is an in-person support group facilitated by Skylight for parents who have lost a child of any age. They meet one evening a month in Wellington.
  • The Unthinkables is a small Facebook group of and for New Zealand parents who have lost a child. It was set up by the founder of Kenzie’s Gift.
  • Bittersweet Parents and Bittersweet Siblings are Australian-based Facebook groups that are open to New Zealand parents and siblings who have lost a child.
  • Together – Bereaved Parents Support Group meet monthly in-person in Auckland and online.

Support organisations

  • Healing Hearts offer counselling, support groups and tips for supporting your Whanau going through child loss.
  • After any sudden death the police offer to contact Victim Support, or they can be contacted directly on 0800 842 846.
  • Whetūrangitia is an online service supporting bereaved parents and whānau who have experienced miscarriages, stillbirths, foetal abnormalities, and baby and child loss, by bringing together information and resources in one place.
  • Sands NZ offer support for parents and families who have lost a baby, either during pregnancy or infancy. Email contact@sands.org.nz. The Care for Families NZ organisation provides bereavement care packages to families going through baby loss journeys.
  • Baby Loss NZ supports families following the death of a baby of any age or gestational stage.

Support for children who are grieving

Kenzie’s Gift is a national organisation that helps children and young people cope when a family member dies or is affected by a serious illness. Children receive one-on-one support from a registered child and family psychotherapist, and parents are given information on how to support their child’s wellbeing. Grandparents Raising Grandchildren offers free emotional support, financial support, peer to peer support groups, advice and information for grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren. Find more youth support services.

Sudden loss and suicide support

Victim Support are available 24 hours a day by phone on 0800 842 846 and offer support to victims of a crime resulting in death and after the suicide of a loved one.

Aoake te Rā, is a free service which offers up to four sessions of free in-person counselling for those affected by suicide loss. Waves is an eight week support programme for adults who have been bereaved by suicide. Email them to join the support group.

Coping with the sudden loss of a family member or friend.

Financial help after a death

As well as the emotional toll of losing a loved one, the strain of unexpected costs can add stress to grieving families. It is worth checking to see if your loved one had a funeral insurance policy or a life insurance policy that covered accidental death.

Depending on the circumstances, in accordance with the Death by Accidents Compensation Act 1952, for bereavement compensation with Work and Income, or for ACC grants to help you with the funeral and memorial costs, one-off payments, loss of income and childcare costs.

Air New Zealand offers compassionate fares to help you travel to be with your friends and family after a bereavement. These compassionate fares are special low prices on flights within New Zealand, as well as assistance getting space on last-minute flights and flexibility to change your flight details.

Self-help resources

There are a number of guides, books and podcasts that may be helpful to you as you navigate your own feelings. You can also find playlists to help you sleep, or achieve moments of much needed calm. Explore self-help resources.

It can help to speak about your loss with people who have gone through similar experiences.

Bereavement Support

The Grief Centre has partnered with funeral homes to provide Bereavement Support services in New Zealand for almost 10 years. Their Bereavement Support team sends loss and grief resources to bereaved people and families, and follows up with phone calls to offer support in their time of loss and for up to a year after their loss. Support can also include a complimentary counselling session if needed.
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Ask your funeral home if they provide the Grief Centre Bereavement Support Service.

Death Cafes in New Zealand

Death cafes are happening all over New Zealand, taking death out of  the closet, and the fear out of death. Join the Death Cafe New Zealand Facebook Group to find one near you or to start your own.