After nearly six months of being unable to conduct groups due to the pandemic, we were excited to finally open our doors and conduct the Fall Young Adult group in-person! This group met for six consecutive weeks in order to provide grief support to 18-25-year-olds who experienced the death of a loved one. Our group size was smaller in order to create a safe and physically distanced environment for our young adults to process their grief. In order to safely run a group in the midst of the pandemic, it required a lot of planning and reconstruction of what activities were suitable for a group setting, yet individualized in order to continue mindfulness of physical distancing during the pandemic. Though parts of our group looked different due to the pandemic, the group culture and comradery was strong.
One common theme among members of the group was learning how to process and cope with their feelings, while also battling limitations in their support systems during the pandemic. An activity that promoted exploration of how their lives had changed after the death was the mask activity, which felt especially appropriate given our current circumstances. Group members were able to create a three-dimensional mask, where they could design what feelings they externalize to others and which they internalize. Many participants shared how difficult it has become in their grief because not only are they at times masking their feelings because they are too difficult to tap into, but also the physical mask that they wear to go out in public creates a limitation to express emotions to others.
The individuals that participated came from many different backgrounds, belief systems and stories, but the support and compassion for one another would make an outsider looking in believe that this was a group meeting with old friends. Grief isn’t easy, especially in a pandemic. These individuals came together to offer support and understanding through sharing their stories, feelings, and memories with one another. Though this has been a difficult time for many, we were privileged to be able to support our young adults in group safely this fall.