Grief & Loss:
The Ripple Effects of Loss

To view this guide as a PDF, click here. For more guides, click here.


PURPOSE OF GROUP: to explore grief & loss

MATERIALS NEEDED: markers/colored pencils (writing utensils for group members)
big sheet of paper


-Facilitator opens group by introducing topic, grief & loss. This is a difficult topic to explore, but we will do so today to better understand how loss affects us.


-Death has a “ripple” effect. The death of a person is a “primary” loss in our life, but there are secondary losses that occur as a result.


Examples of secondary losses include:

-Loss of family structure
a. For example, a child who loses a parent no longer has two parents in the home
b. Someone who loses a spouse no longer has another adult in the household & may have to take on additional responsibilities
-Loss of companionship or loss of marriage
-Loss of lifestyle
a. For example, a mother volunteers at her child’s school, goes to her soccer games & dance recitals every weekend, hangs out with other moms, etc. A parent’s lifestyle (and social circle) changes if their child dies
b. Someone who loses a spouse must adjust to being single again
-Loss of financial security
-Loss of identity
-Loss of health
a. Depression, anxiety, sleep problems, eating problems, etc.
-Loss of the future you once imagined
-Loss of purpose
-Loss of joy, hope, love, etc.

-As a result of these secondary losses, people who are grieving often feel as though they have lost everything dear to them.


-The group members will participate in an activity that will allow them to explore the ripple effects of loss, and it will also normalize their reactions to the losses they’ve experienced.

*Before they begin the activity, ask each group member to think of a person they have lost
*One-by-one, allow each group member to share who that person is & how long ago they lost him/her


-For the activity, have group members sit at a table. Cover the table with a large sheet of paper.

*In the middle of the paper, draw a circle & ask each group member to write the name of the person they’ve lost
*Around the circle, instruct the group members to write the ways in which the loss has had a ripple effect on them (i.e. write the secondary losses they’ve experienced)
*After the group members are done writing, have each group member identify & discuss some of the ripple effects (on the paper) that they can relate to


2a. After the activity, you can ask the group members the following questions:

-Which secondary loss hit you the hardest?
-Which secondary loss was the most unexpected (i.e. not prepared for, surprised by)?
-Which group member could you relate to the most during the activity?


-Facilitator can conclude group by talking about the healing process. When we are mourning a “primary” loss, we are mourning for another (our loved one). However, when we are mourning a “secondary” loss, we are mourning for ourselves. But that’s okay! That’s not selfish. It’s necessary.

-Each loss you experience (as a result of the “primary” loss) must be acknowledged & mourned


-You must learn to adjust to a new life, a new reality, a new environment, etc.

-For example, someone who loses a spouse must adjust to added responsibility
*You can ask group members, “What new life did you have to adjust to?” and “What was the scariest thing about this new life?”


-One of the best ways to cope with everything is to take care of yourself.

-Ask for help, confide in family & friends, join a bereavement group, etc.


-If there is time, you can end group by having each group member complete the following sentence:

-Grief has taught me…


For worksheets, group activities, & more therapy resources, click the button below!

Free Therapy Resources

Join our mailing list for more freebies!

* indicates required


Share this & spread the word!