The Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA) is proud to provide free virtual grief support to bereaved caregivers. Bereavement is not an easy process, and this service is meant for caregivers to express the feelings that come alongside it in a safe, private space. Here are two stories from caregivers who sought out VNA’s help to move forward after losing their husbands.
Darlene, a Fenton, MO native, found out about VNA’s support groups after her husband’s passing in the summer of 2020 following seven days in VNA’s hospice program.
“[The VNA team] were absolutely, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, like angels from heaven. I’d never experienced anything like the care they gave him and the care they gave me,” says Darlene.
Jamesetta Roach, VNA Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator, helped Darlene during this transition. Jamesetta became a support to Darlene, reaching out to see how she was holding up and eventually recommending that Darlene consider a virtual grief support group.
“At that point I was a little bit weary of if I should join, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Darlene was hesitant of the virtual format at first, but she quickly learned that it was an asset.
“It’s easier not having to get up and go somewhere,” says Darlene. “And it allows for more people to attend. That way, you get different ideas, different people grieving in different ways, and that can help you too.”
The changes Darlene has seen in her life have been drastic. She says she’s happier and now understands there’s no right or wrong way for her to grieve.
“When [my husband] first died, I would go to the store and something would remind me of him and I’d cry, but now I think, ‘Oh, those are the cookies he liked’ and smile.”
“I’ve never met a group of people as kind and sweet as the VNA team,” says Darlene. “They are thrilled to help you, and I always tell them they’re the greatest organization I know.”
Denise lives in Washington, MO and lost her husband in the winter of 2020. She found out about VNA through her daughter. “They seemed very nice, responsible and caring, so she referred me to them, and they are amazing. Everyone I’ve worked with is so great.”
Denise found herself depressed, a depression exacerbated by the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic. She thought she could handle this feeling on her own, but after Jamesetta called her to check in and asked if Denise would be interested in grief support, Denise decided it was time to get help.
“I felt like I was drowning and falling deeper into a dark hole, but VNA’s grief support has been amazing,” says Denise. “That first session validated all my emotions, and I learned that instead of fighting those feelings, I needed to move along and let them happen.”
Like Darlene, Denise has appreciated the benefits of this program being virtual. “I’d never gone to any type of support group because I never felt comfortable sitting in a room with people I didn’t know discussing my feelings,” says Darlene. “But with VNA, I feel very comfortable talking and know that if I ever have difficulty outside of those meetings, I can talk to them and they’d be there for me.”
Bereavement doesn’t have a timeline, and Darlene says this is one of the most important lessons she’s learned.
“You don’t necessarily get over it; you get through it. It can take months, years or never. You just keep living, and I think that’s key right now.”
VNA provides weekly caregiver resources through their website, some around bereavement and grief. Here are a few blogs you can read: