Even under otherwise “normal” conditions, it is difficult for families coping with a loved one’s serious illness to manage. There are often multiple medical appointments, struggles to balance caregiving with work or school, and the mental and physical exhaustion that can come on with little warning. There are similar obstacles faced by families who are coping with grief and loss during this time. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly exacerbated the difficulties faced by caregivers and the bereaved.
Restrictions necessary to limit the spread of the novel Coronavirus cancelled many non-emergent medical procedures and appointments. People with serious illness are at high risk of contracting COVID-19, with a greater likelihood of severe symptoms and death, so they and their loved ones have had to self-isolate, eroding the human contact and social interactions that refuel and replenish them. And many who are grieving a loved one’s death have been unable to hold memorial gatherings and come together in fellowship with others. The situation is daunting and grim, but Pathways for Grief & Loss has adapted its services and found innovative ways to provide help and hope.
Our therapists at Pathways for Grief & Loss (all licensed mental health professionals) have been working extensively with telehealth platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting to deliver counseling and emotion support remotely to individuals, couples, families, and groups. Earlier this summer, Pathways for Grief & Loss offered two of our signature programs – Caregiver Pampering Day, and the Summer Memorial Service & Butterfly release – via virtual platforms.
Fifty caregivers – some from other states, and even one from England – attended virtual education and support groups over the course of two weeks of remote programming. And nearly 200 butterflies were purchased and released by individuals and families in memory of their loved ones. Many said that until the Memorial Service & Butterfly Release they had not been able to have a celebration of their loved one’s life due to COVID-19 restrictions. They were deeply grateful and found the virtual service to be deeply meaningful and helpful.
The future, at least in the short term, remains uncertain, and the need for this innovative virtual support continues. Pathways is committed to utilizing every tool available to continue to live our mission of bringing care, comfort, and hope to people coping with serious illness and loss. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Be well, stay safe, and know that Pathways is here for you…