The Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently received grant funding from the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island and the Government of Canada through the COVID-19 Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF).
The $6,225 grant will help CVHS implement revised bereavement programs to meet the growing need for grief support in the Comox Valley.
The isolation and limited personal contact due to COVID-19 regulations has had a profound and ongoing impact on the dying, their caregivers, and their loved ones. In addition to an increase in the number of bereavement referrals, the pandemic has contributed to an increase in complicated grief cases.
In response to COVID-19 circumstances, CVHS must re-imagine its support programs to transition to online grief support groups and education when physical distancing is limited or not an option.
Client feedback on an initial online art of grief group provided some important information. Prior to their group involvement, participants found the isolation especially challenging, noting that their usual networks of support were interrupted by COVID protocols. After participating in the group, most reported that they were able to start to process their grief. An added benefit was the development of continuing informal support through the group friendships that are formed. Participants recognized that while their experiences were personal and unique, they also shared experiences and emotions that are “normal” for those who are grieving – even during a pandemic.
The ECSF funding means CVHS can offer an increased number and variety of online grief groups as well as additional individual counselling. CVHS grief support groups are accessible by referral or self-referral.
After getting some basic information through the intake process, a CVHS counsellor will talk to the person to determine which kind of support would be most beneficial. For some clients, the loss may be too soon for a group experience and other kinds of supports are offered first, such as placement with a trained volunteer for one-to-one phone support or socially distanced walk and talks. For others, it may be online counselling appointments or family caregiver support. All support group participants are chosen by the CVHS clinical team to ensure that they are ready emotionally to both benefit from and contribute to the group experience.
For more information on grief support CVHS provides, visit http://comoxhospice.com/ or call 250-339-5533.