Bereavement Groups Offer Chance For Families To Grieve Those Lost To Drug Addiction
Bereavement groups catered specifically to those who have lost loved ones to addiction provide a supportive place for family and friends to gather and grieve without fear of stigmatization. They include persons who have lost friends, children, siblings, parents and others, and offer a comfortable and safe environment for sympathetic sharing and listening.
A bereavement group in Bayonne, New Jersey, known as A Healing Heart, released the following to the press:
“By coming together, we will remove the isolation and stigma as we work on our pain and grief so we can learn how to survive and have hope.”
The group was started by Franca Kirsch and Aurora Chiarella, sisters who are still mourning Franca’s daughter, Christina, who died of a heroin overdose in March of 2016. Just one month before, she had been participating in addiction treatment in a Florida rehab facility in Florida. Meetings will begin in September.
Hope and Healing After an Addiction Death is another group in New Jersey that was started in 2015 led by two mothers who each lost adult children to overdoses.
Let It Out is a boxing support group that offers families a chance to deal with the loss of loved ones by providing an outlet for pain. The group was started by Cathy Fennely, who lost her son to heroin after struggling to help him for eight years. In 2015, she discovered him passed away on her front step.
Unfortunately, not everyone who has lost a loved one to drugs has access to these in-person meetings. However, there are a number of Facebook groups that provide a space to share stories and remember the lost. For example, Heroin Support is a non-profit that hosts Facebook groups for people who wish to memorialize a person they loved and lost to drugs, and include Heroin Memorial and Lost to Heroin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33,000 Americans died in 2015 due to overdoses caused by prescription or illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl. That number is expected to rise again when the final tally comes in for 2016.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology