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I was working as a hospice grief counselor in Oregon when the pandemic began. My bereavement care colleagues and I transitioned to working from home, and provided grief support to our bereaved hospice families by phone.

 

Grief support groups were typically a significant component of our services. Because we weren’t able to meet in person, our team considered adjusting our groups to an online format.

 

Admittedly, I was skeptical. By that point, I had been facilitating in-person grief support groups for 8 years. I knew the power and potency of people coming together to learn about grief, connect with others who understand, and gather provisions for the difficult and often long journey of grief. I didn’t think that group participants would experience the same level of connection over a screen.

 

Thankfully, I was wrong. For the online group participants, it was a healing balm to hear others’ stories. They cherished having a space where they could talk about their deceased loved one. They found deep comfort in being able to show up just as they were, with their intense emotions, fatigue, irritability, guilt, or brain fog. They, too, were surprised by the depth of sharing that could happen over Zoom, and established supportive connections.

 

In the following years, my colleagues and I facilitated many online groups. Even after in-person groups were resumed, there were some people for whom an online group remained preferable because of distance, difficulty with transportation, a compromised immune system, or simply the desire to be in the comfort of home.

 

In service of accessibility of support, I'm grateful to be offering an 8-week online grief group beginning on March 28th for individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one.

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