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COVID-19 Online Bereavement Support Groups to be Provided by Long Island’s Leading Mental Health Organizations

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People are unable to grieve the loss of loved ones in ways they are used to. No wakes for Christians. No shivas for Jews. No three-day mourning periods for Muslims.


That’s why Long Island’s two leading, county-based mental health organizations have begun offering online bereavement support groups designed to provide comfort, support, and “grief tools” to those who have lost loved ones to the COVID-19 virus. The first group begins on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. For more information and to register, go to www.bereavement.mhaw.org.


Mandatory social distancing has sharply curtailed people’s ability to grieve in conventional, in-person settings. In the absence of the intimate contact typically associated with the mourning process, these remote, weekly bereavement sessions aim to mollify the pain of individuals whose family members or close friends have succumbed to COVID-19.


The “COVID-19 Bereavement Support Group” initiative is hosted by the Suffolk County-based Association for Mental Health and Wellness and the Mental Health Association of Nassau County.


Guided by experienced grief counselors, the groups will convene remotely in 60- or 90-minute sessions via a secure Zoom line over the course of a four- or six-week period. There is no cost to take part and registration – which is limited to 12 participants per group – is on a first-come basis.
“As everyone can imagine, losing a loved one to the virus is a deeply painful and jarring experience,” said Michael Stoltz, C.E.O. of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness, which is headquartered in Ronkonkoma. “We’ve identified skilled and sensitive grief counselors who are well qualified to help participants build comforting pathways for healing, even in a technologically remote setting.” “The pandemic’s restrictions largely prevent mourners from experiencing the reassuring feelings of hugs and other types of close-up contact,” said Jeffrey McQueen, Executive Director of the Hempstead-based Mental Health Association of Nassau County. “Grieving remotely can’t fully replace the face-to-face experience, but it can help reinforce feelings of hope and help fill the void.”


Participants in any of the five COVID-19 Bereavement Support Groups must be mourning the loss of a family member or close friend who has died from COVID-19. The group categories are:   

                         
Grieving Adults Support Groups: For people who have lost a loved one to coronavirus and cannot grieve in person with their loved ones. The group will bring together others who are struggling to come to terms with the loss, to create a sense of closure, and to grieve in community. There will be two groups in this category.


Peer Bereavement Support Group: For individuals experiencing a mental health condition who have lost a loved one to coronavirus. Participants have a safe and supportive space to share their stories with others who can truly relate to their pain and experiences. 

Veterans Bereavement Support Group: For Veterans and their families who have lost someone to coronavirus and cannot grieve in person with their loved ones. This group will deal with issues specific to the Veterans community.


Creative Arts Bereavement Support Group: The making of art can serve as a safe outlet for the expression of thoughts and emotions relating to death and loss. By expressing these feelings in a symbolic manner, mourners can nurture their sense of control, organization, and containment. Participants may use such art supplies as copy paper, colored pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, and glue.


Those interested may register at www.bereavement.mhaw.org.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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