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Healing Patch offers advice about COVID-19

Supporting grieving children and families has long been the priority of the Healing Patch Children’s Grief Program. Now that families are not able to gather physically for peer support groups, the Healing Patch is providing other ways for families to connect and offering validation for all people in response to COVID-19.

“We wanted a way to capitalize on all of the extra time children are spending with their families,” said Shalen Steinbugl, Healing Patch volunteer coordinator and grief specialist. “We came up with the idea of ‘Time Together Tuesdays.’ We hope these activities are helpful to not only children who are grieving the death of a loved one, but also to children who are grieving everyday losses that have occurred because of the pandemic.”

“Time Together Tuesdays” include various activities, mostly general and some related to grief and loss, using common household items. Activities are shared on the Healing Patch Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/healingpatchbyhomenursingagency. In addition to weekly activities, the Healing Patch continues to take calls from the community concerning the best ways to support a grieving child(ren), enroll interested families into the program and mail grief resources. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer is encouraged to go apply. Volunteer training is slated to begin in July.

“As a society we have experienced an exorbitant amount of loss in a very short period,” said Healing Patch Coordinator Melody Ray. “I am referring to not only losses to death but the multitude of other losses the virus has inflicted — loss of income, loss of milestone events, loss of predictable routines. Individuals living alone or in a long-term care facility are longing for physical touch from loved ones. … not to mention feelings of loss of security, trust and what we knew as normalcy. And also grief.”

The OKs of COVID-19:

1 It is OK to have many feelings — overwhelmed, angry, wary. The feelings are normal and natural. What is most important is that you cope with them by not hurting yourself or others.

2. It is OK to feel scared for your own health and for the health of those you love. Concerns for your health and/or loved ones’ health are legitimate.

3. It is OK to have both good and bad days. Some days, the gravity of the situation feels overwhelming. The next day, you may feel better. Regardless of which type of day you are having, it is OK. Being human has its peaks and valleys.

4. It is OK to give yourself grace regarding your own mental and emotional capabilities. Everyone’s experience with the pandemic is unique. The stress of this new normal may be taking a toll on your productivity. Be patient with yourself and others. If needed, reach out to mental health professionals for assistance.

5. It is OK to be forgiving regarding your physical limitations. The mental stressors of the pandemic can be seen in physical ways. You may be eating and sleeping more or less. You may find yourself sluggish, or have more energy. You may find your heart and head racing at times and/or experience headaches or stomach aches. You may be finding it difficult to stay on track with healthy eating and exercise goals. All of these responses are normal in times of increased stress and grief. Strive to find balance.

6. It is OK to recognize that you are only in control of yourself and your own behaviors. While the majority of people are dealing with the pandemic the best way they know how, some people are in denial, which is a common grief reaction. It is important to recognize that you can only control your own behaviors.

7. It is OK to grieve all losses at this time. It is important to recognize that all losses, regardless if society considers them to be small or large, can cause people to grieve. Many events such as a graduation or attending a sporting event have been postponed or may never happen. Allow yourself and others to grieve.

8. It is OK to talk about your experiences and concerns with people who will listen without judgment.

9. It is OK to find meaning and experience personal growth. The pandemic may have created the opportunity for you to slow down in life, to appreciate sit-down meals with family, to find gratitude in the little things or to reevaluate your own goals for the future.

10. It is OK to embrace the unknown future and to still remain hopeful. Will we ever return to the way things used to be or will we have a “new normal”? When can we resume our daily activities without fear or hesitation? The most important thing to remember is although the situation is open-ended, it is temporary. It is OK to still dream and to be hopeful for a better future.

For more information about Healing Patch services or volunteer opportunities, please visit www .facebook.com/healingpatchchildrensgriefprogram or call 1-800-445-6262.

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