Counseling & Support: Support for Grieving Family & Friends

Each person grieves in a different way after a family member or friend has passed away. There is no “right” or “wrong” reaction in response to loss, and no set amount of time for grieving. Some people experience physical changes related to appetite and sleep habits. Others feel emotions such as anger, sadness, guilt, loneliness, and emptiness. As a result, the need for support varies by person and situation — and may change over time.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we offer a variety of programs to address each individual’s needs after a loved one has died, including professional counseling, support groups, lectures, seminars, and other educational resources.

Individual, Family, and Group Counseling

We offer counseling and support for all family members and friends who have lost a loved one treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering. The following departments have professionals who can provide assistance.

  • Social Work – The department's bereavement program offers free telephone consultations, support groups, educational lectures, and referrals to community resources. Our oncology social workers have expertise in dealing with the psychological, social, spiritual/existential, and practical concerns that often arise for individuals, families, and friends who are grieving. Please call 646-888-4889 for more information.
  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences – Our psychiatrists and psychologists lead a bereavement clinic that provides psychotherapy and support for individuals, couples, and families who are grieving. We can also provide consultation about and assistance with management of psychiatric medications. Please call 646-888-0200 for more information.
  • Chaplaincy Services – Our chaplains are available to listen, pray, help support family members, contact community clergy or faith groups, or simply serve as a comforting companion and spiritual presence. You do not need to have a formal religious affiliation to request spiritual support. In addition, the All Faith Mary French Rockefeller Chapel near the main lobby on the first floor of Memorial Hospital is open at all times for meditation and prayer. Please call 212-639-5982 for more information.

Bereavement Support Groups

If you have lost a loved one from cancer, you may find support and solace in speaking with others who are grieving.

We offer the following bereavement support groups:

  • A monthly bereavement support group led by an oncology social worker. This is open to family members and friends who have lost someone to cancer at Memorial-Sloan Kettering. This group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • Groups for individuals who have experienced a specific type of loss at Memorial Sloan Kettering, such as the death of a spouse, partner, parent, or adult child take place periodically throughout the year, and are led by an oncology social worker. Participants are encouraged to provide support to one other in order to decrease isolation and strengthen coping skills. Please call 646-888-4889 for details.
  • A monthly support group for families who are coping with the loss of a child treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering. These groups are coordinated through the Department of Pediatrics’ Towards Tomorrow Bereavement Program. Please call 212-639-6850 or e-mail for more information.

Lectures about Grief, Loss, and Bereavement

For many people, understanding what happens during the grieving process can be helpful. We offer lectures and panel discussions on topics such as the caregiver’s perspective on loss and grief, and help in coping with the holidays.

Learn more about our upcoming lectures and watch videos from past lectures.

    Your Bereavement Program Social Worker