How to Help Your Families Find Effective Digital Grief Resources
Posted September 16, 2020
6 min read
Grieving, healing, and other kinds of emotional support don’t have to happen in-person.
Believe it or not, for more than 20 years, people have been turning to digital grief tools to get the emotional support they need as a way to remember their loved one’s life.
That figure was shared by Lacy Robinson when we spoke to her about the reality of grief today, and how digital tools are crucial to meeting the emotional needs of the bereaved.
Lacy offers funeral home clients more than 14 years of success in developing and facilitating customer service training programs. As an experienced coach and speaker, Lacy has established organizations including Aurora Casket Company and the National Funeral Directors Association as leading providers of training and development for funeral professionals.
She’s also a licensed funeral director/embalmer, a certified funeral celebrant, and certified member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and previously served on the APFSP Board of Trustees. She also teaches Fundamentals of Customer Service at Worsham College of Mortuary Science. As an active member of the Bluegrass Toastmasters Group, Lacy has achieved the designation Competent Communicator.
Keep reading our two-part blog series with Lacy to learn more about what grief tools and online communities you should know about, and how to establish your credibility as a trusted guide for recommending digital grief tools to families.
Why Digital Tools Can Be So Helpful to Your Families
The digital mental health resources and grief tools Lacy often shares with others are easily accessible, convenient, and affordable—and that’s part of why they are so valuable to families as another resource for them to have.
“Individuals experiencing heartache may not have the time or financial resources to receive in-person grief help. Funeral directors and aftercare specialists should be able to feel confident in knowing there is a need for user friendly accessible digital tools,” she explains. Funeral directors are in a unique position to share information with the bereaved about these digital tools to further expand upon the bereavement care they already provide.
How Digital Tools Allow Families to Receive Support
Lacy highlights a few of the most popular online grief forums and online communities, including:
- Griefincommon.com: an online community designed to connect those who are grieving based on background and similar experiences for chats online and opportunities to meet in person, for those who are interested. (More below.)
- Grieving.com: an online community to help people on their grief journey regardless of the type of loss suffered. They encourage sharing, chats, circles, and journaling.
- Missfoundation.org: an international 501(c)3, volunteer-based organization providing C.A.R.E.S.—standing for counseling, advocacy, research, education and support—services to families experiencing the death of a child.
- Nationalshare.org: an online community dedicated to those who have experienced the death of a baby through pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life. This support encompasses emotional, physical, spiritual and social healing.
- Refugeingrief.com: an online community that supports validation and practical tools for living with grief. Their services include corporate consultation, creative writing courses, and books/articles to read.
- 7cups.com: with the heart of the platform being community, 7cups.com provides a way for people to feel less lonely, ask for help, and to have the opportunity to be listened to by others. You can join a scheduled group support session, or share your own wisdom and life experience to help others along the way. (More below.)
Those who participate in online grief communities find the environment to be safe and non-judgmental, says Lacy. “There’s a level of emotional availability that the bereaved may not experience otherwise from friends and family and the access of those who want to listen with their hearts is commonplace. The exchange of coping skills, and exploring what has worked or hasn’t worked is a topic of conversation among participants,” she says. These deep and meaningful conversations with others help individuals to discover new traditions and different ways to remember their loved one’s life.
Each one of these websites offer unique features which may appeal to different individuals. “For example, Grief In Common does ask each user to complete profile sharing details of their loss in order to match a community specifically to their unique situation and emotional needs. In addition to their numerous online communities they do offer 24/7 live support chat which is only 99 cents a month.”
7cups.com is very popular and has been featured in everything from the Wall Street Journal to the USA Today. In addition to various chatrooms/communities they have over 322,000 trained listeners making 7cups “a world class listening service” and they also call themselves the largest emotional support system in the world.
Their site boasts that since starting in 2013, there have been well over 1 billion messages sent to their users, over 39 million people helped and it’s used 189 countries and 140 languages, which shows just how popular the platform is for people looking to learn new coping skills to grow stronger each day. “Their growth is quite impressive,” adds Lacy.
Digital Tools That Focus on Anxiety
While some of the tools and apps available are grief communities, Lacy explains that another sub-division of this online support is focused on anxiety in particular.
“In the United States there are 40 million people that suffer from anxiety. Grief experts tell us that anxiety is a common part of the grieving process,” explains Lacy. An app specifically designed to address anxiety symptoms is Anxiety Reliever. “This app is all about helping users establish a soothing and relaxing environment. It uses calming audio recordings, helpful guides, a savvy anxiety tracker, and a guiding breathing tool.”
For the bereaved who prefer meditation as a way to cope with emotions, the app Calm is available. Calm has been designed to help users improve their mood, have more restful sleep, reduce anxiety, and lower stress, says Lacy. Calm currently has over 40 million downloads and over 700,000 five-star reviews. Calm also features celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Leona Lewis, and Bindi Irwin that may appeal to participants.
Want to learn more about helping families to have access to tools like these? Come back to the CRäKN blog next week to read part two in our series with Lacy on how you can help families find online forums, communities, and other tools to help them grieve and cope.
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