COVID has dramatically changed how people grieve the loss of a loved one. Families are struggling with grief alone because of social distancing measures and visitation policies. As part of its ‘Supporting our Communities in the time of COVID-19’ program, BCCPC partnered with the End of Life Doula Association of Canada in June 2020 to pilot a 12-session grief group based on Francis Weller’s The Wild Edges of Sorrow.
The aim of this partnership is to provide accessible peer-facilitated grief and bereavement support that fosters community connection, grief competency and resilience by training community volunteers from across the province. The training will be supplemented with a facilitator guide and access to coaching and mentoring.
The first pilot ran from September to December 2020 and included 19 participants. As part of the evaluation led by BCCPC, participants were asked to respond to a series of questions around their comfort and experiences with grief before and after the sessions, as well as what they liked about the sessions, what changes they noted in themselves following the sessions and how the sessions could be improved in the future.
Every measure shows success
Overall, the pilot was a success by every measure assessed. A majority of participants emphasized how much they appreciated the sense of community as well as the rituals, particularly those involving writing and visualizations. Participants also shared that they felt more open and comfortable sharing their grief and more sensitive to the grief of others. Participants concluded their surveys by expressing gratitude for the sessions as well as the need for these types of sessions to help people learn about and process their grief. Facilitators were commended for their leadership and for creating a safe and caring community environment.
Recommendations for improvement will be integrated by End of Life Doula Association for the next pilot, set to begin in March 2021.