Many bereaved people, with the support of family, friends and their community, cope with the loss of a loved one, however for some, grief is chronic and disabling. Thankfully there is now an acceptance that mental wellbeing is as important as physical health – and help is at hand.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) is an independent, not for profit organisation, providing a specialist bereavement service for individuals, children and families who need assistance following the death of someone close to them.
A new App, free on android and Apple devices, has recently been launched by ACGB with support of to two great Australian philanthropic organisations: Gandel Philanthropy and The Jack Brockoff Foundation.
ACGB Chief Executive, Christopher Hall said that the recently launched MyGrief App aims to support bereaved people, as well as those who are supporting them.
The App creates a series of strategies that bereaved people can have as a portfolio of things they can try. It’s private, and it uses measures that are strongly evidence-based.
The sorts of questions people are asked on the app are the kinds of questions a counsellor might ask,” Mr Hall said.
The second component of the MyGrief App is designed to help people who are supporting a bereaved individual.
Mr. Hall said, “It helps them understand what to say and what not to say, and provides them with useful tips and strategies to help them feel informed and empowered in what can sometimes be a challenging and worrying time for supporting friends and family members.
The ACGB service offers face-to-face bereavement counselling most of which is office-based, as well as bereavement support programs such as support groups, information resources and remembrance events.
And they have just recently launched a new national online telehealth bereavement counselling service giving clients access to a specialist bereavement counsellor in a virtual setting, via a computer, iPhone or smart phone, or a tablet.
Now, all Australians, regardless of location or circumstance, can access the Centre's services and can maintain control over the setting and context of their own counselling.
ACGB support groups are a way of bringing people together in a safe space to share common life experiences. They provide a forum for participants to communicate in a mutual understanding of shared challenges and problems. The strength of support groups lie in the connections and understandings that come from shared narratives.
To access the services and resources offered by the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, visit https://www.grief.org.au
Resources for children
Whilst providing strategies to assist grown ups dealing with grief and bereavement is critical, it is important to also keep in mind that children can, and do, pick up on the emotional state of others. Please remember to provide them with support, tools and strategies as well.
In 1998 I wrote a simple book A for Attitude to help children gain confidence and learn important life skills. Over the years I've received feedback from teens and adults who said it helped them to deal with grief and loss as children.
An all rounder book, A for Attitude was designed to educate and inform children of all ages on a variety of topics, but nowadays, there are many other resources which have been specifically designed to assist children to cope with bereavement.
If you have children struggling to cope with emotions surrounding loss and grief, it's worth browsing your local bookstore to find something that feels right to you – and read it with them. Allow them to ask questions, talk about their feelings and, if necessary, you may need to include them in bereavement counselling.
Loss can be experienced through divorce, death or a friendship ending. Giving children coping strategies from an early age will help them become more resilient and prepare them for other losses they will most certainly encounter throughout life.
Please note: The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement is not a crisis support service. In an emergency please call 000, or if you require urgent counselling, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.