Empty support group

Today many of us are overwhelmed by our collective losses, and heartbroken knowing that grieving people are more isolated than ever before. Funerals can’t happen. Support groups are a thing of the past. Even visits from neighbors dropping by with hugs and meals are impossible.

The reality is that hundreds of thousands of people are grieving alone in their homes, unable to lean on the people and programs they would normally rely on. For example, Renee is a 17-year old high school student, whose Mom died in June. She’d been hoping her senior year would be a positive distraction, but now that’s been taken from her too. She can’t attend school or her teen support group, and is instead at home, missing her Mom, and looking for ways to be OK.

A Bereavement Manager in Seattle shared the story of her client, who slammed the phone down in rage and frustration when he heard his support group had been canceled. “Just when I need you the most,” he said, before he hung up.

Grief is tough, but it’s a little easier if we have friends and family by our side. But here we are, at a time when COVID-19 has taken away the comfort of human interaction, leaving people truly alone in their grief. If you’re all alone, navigating the scariest waters you’ve ever known, know that there are still ways to get the support you need.

Laura Malcolm founded GiveInKind, after her baby died. GiveInKind brings together care calendars, fundraising and wishlists. Imagine a cleaner, easier version of Caring Bridge and GoFundMe, combined with a gift registry for people who are going through a hard time. If you’re looking for a way to coordinate support, raise money for funeral expenses, and make it easy for friends and family to support you after a loss, GiveInKind is a great place to start. It’s free to create a page, and from there you can invite others to join and contribute. 

Another great way to get support from a distance, is to sign up for personalized text messages from Grief Coach. They send text messages all year long, based on your loss. Better yet, if you have friends and family who want to help, but aren’t sure how, they’ll receive tips and reminders too. Everyone’s text messages will be customized based on things like cause of death and your relationship to the person who’s died. 

One Grief Coach subscriber purchased a Grief Coach subscription when her baby was stillborn. She was devastated about the loss of her son, but was also struggling with feelings of isolation. Her best friend had flown across the country to help with the new baby, but when she found herself dealing with a death instead of a birth, she left, claiming: “I don’t know how to be with you when you’re like this.”

This courageous Mom started getting text messages right away, to help with her grief. She also added her friend to the subscription so the friend could get tips and suggestions as well. Within days the friend reached out saying, “thank you for understanding this is hard for me too.” Since then the friend has been receiving text messages from Grief Coach at least twice a week, and has felt more confident and better equipped to support her friend through the tragedy of her stillbirth. Even from afar.

Grief is hard, but having friends and family with you for the journey really can help. It can feel unfair that in-person support groups, therapy sessions and visits with friends are off the table right now, but take a leap of faith and you may be surprised by how rich and rewarding digital grief support can be. Give them a try, because no-one should have to grieve alone. Especially now.