Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Kentucky has started a COVID-19 Grief Group for October to help those who have lost a loved one due to the virus, according to bereavement coordinator Caleb Potter.

The group sessions are from 5 to 6:30 p.m. each Thursday throughout October.

The facility held grief groups in March, having one each week throughout the month, with a capacity for 10 individuals for each session.

Potter said that while the first round didn’t receive as much interest as the facility anticipated, he expects the October sessions to be much more full, given the current standing of COVID-19 in the community, with a recent surge in cases and individuals experiencing a much higher level of loss and grief related to the virus.

He said discussion surrounding the virus has become very politicized in the community, but for the individuals who have lost someone they love, it is a new, complex territory for grieving amidst so much division.

“I expect people to talk about how nuanced the death is because of how politicized everything about COVID has become,” Potter said. “That’s something that came up the last time. This is not only dealing with the very sudden loss of someone you love and trying to navigate those waters of grief, but also being able to engage with people and your community on a subject that is really divisive. For these people that have lost someone very close to them, it’s not up for debate — the severity of the illness is life-changing, life-shattering.”

Starting the grief group, Potter said, was a way of giving these individuals a safe space to talk about the unique form of loss felt during the pandemic and transition into grieving in a healthy way by reflecting on memories and talking about the impact the loss has had on the individual’s day-to-day life.

Potter said the goal of the group is to provide a peer-to-peer support system of individuals who have experienced similar trauma and loss.

Counselors, he said, will be acting as facilitators rather than guiding any discussion.

“More than anything, we are there to let discussion happen between attendees so that they can talk to one another about what they’ve experienced,” he said.

Having a support system, according to Potter, helps to combat the feeling of isolation that comes with coping with the loss of a loved one.

“Grief is an incredibly isolating experience to go through,” Potter said. “You feel like there’s just no one who understands you or gets what you’re going through. To sit in a room with nine or ten other people who really get it can be a game-changer for folks.

“That camaraderie, that support from people who really know what’s going on, what you’ve been through, they know the snide comments, heard all the platitudes, and they have weathered that storm as well.”

The group sessions will be held at the Hospice Administrative Office on Wathens Crossing.

Anyone interested in more information or reserving a spot may do so by calling 270-316-9112.

Christie Netherton, cnetherton@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7360

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