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Trends in the US - Collective grieving

A group of grieving mothers have started a project that is based on the benefits of collective grieving.

In 2006, filmmaker Jennifer Steinman took a group of grieving mothers to AIDS-stricken South Africa. Her motivation was that if they volunteered to help others whose grief was exacerbated by their poverty and hardship, it would be easier for them to come to terms with their loss.

Their experiences were captured in Motherland, the film Steinman made of their journey. It posed the question: "Is there healing in helping others?" 

Says Steinman: "In America, people tend to feel very isolated in their grief...we go into our houses, close the door and cry all by ourselves. In Africa, they grieve together."

Anne Magill was one of the mothers on the trip.  Her 15-year old daughter Grace committed suicide two years earlier.

She found the experience so powerful she started Project Grace to arrange trips to needy communities in Mexico and Nicaragua for grieving parents.

"It gives these parents a chance to get out of their environment and to be in a community with other people in grief, and share that experience without having to pretend you’re ok," says co-founder Catherine Stern.

The women who went to South Africa don’t claim the trip healed them, saying that 'getting over' the death of their child is not really possible, or even desirable because getting over it feels too much like forgetting.

The trip was, though, a significant step forward through the bereavement process. 

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