ORA helps people move through grief and loss

Primary Media
The word "hope" spelled out on wall in green paper letters surrounded by paper flowers, leaves with notes written on them, and insects.
People experiencing loss share what brings them hope on a wall at Ste-Geneviève United Church.
Credit: ORA
Published On: May 25, 2021
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“Languishing.” That’s the latest popular word to describe how many of us feel as the pandemic rolls on. Some organizations, like the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), are flagging the potential for a mental health “echo pandemic,” explaining that even after the virus is brought under control it could be followed by a pandemic of mental health issues.

“Concerns about the mental health impacts of COVID-19 align with recent research on the mental health consequences of large-scale traumatic, natural, and environmental disasters. Disasters are frequently accompanied by increases in mental health problems…all of which can persist for prolonged periods,” says CMHA in a policy brief.

COVID-19 has amplified grief, which for some can contribute to mental health issues.

None of us is a stranger to grief these days. Losses are piling up: income and security, physical contact with loved ones, future plans, rituals like funerals and weddings, going to school in person, losing loved ones to the virus. To quote grief expert David Kessler, “This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

Blessedly, numerous organizations that your Mission & Service gifts support provide crucial mental health services. From chaplaincies, to shelters, to addiction treatment, to counselling services, your support is there.

ORA Loss & Living Program, a non-profit community outreach initiative developed by Ste-Geneviève United Church in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, is one organization your gifts support. ORA, named after a Maori word meaning “life,” helps people move through grief and loss in order to lead full and fulfilling lives. So far, peer-support groups hosted by skilled facilitators have been held for family caregivers, refugees, seniors, widows, and churches in transition.

“We have offered online conversation during the pandemic. Many social workers and students participated to get a handle on coping mechanisms for grief in general and COVID grief in particular,” says Judy Coffin, ORA’s former program coordinator and ongoing volunteer. ORA is currently running an online widow support group, cooking program, and yoga/meditation group.

“Everyone in the world gets hit with loss and grief at some point in life, but most of us are totally unprepared to deal with it. Learning how to acknowledge, recognize—and even embrace—our grief allows us to start rebuilding our lives around our loss,” says Coffin.

Your gifts through Mission & Service help transform lives during life’s most stressful times. Thank you.

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