Each day, families of every race, religion and walk of life face a devastating and unimaginable reality – their loved one has died.
Whether the deaths are from overdose, suicide, mass casualty events, homicide, accidents, war, stillbirth or medical conditions, bereaved individuals, families and communities often have access to few resources.
These Americans need more than your thoughts and prayers.
While most Americans will experience bereavement during their lifetime, the topic receives little attention in our nation’s discourse on public health priorities, health equity, and the well-being of children and families.
Our nation can do better. We are working every day to bring more and better resources to families and the professionals who serve them. Bereavement care in America is broken. We hope you will join us to make the world a more livable place for bereaved individuals, families and communities.
Bereavement care is the rule, not the exception
Regardless of age, race, religion, geography or income, access to consistent, high-quality bereavement care should be available in every neighborhood of America. Resources and programs should meet the individual needs of the populations they serve.
Bereaved individuals are not getting the support they need
Research suggests that adverse physical and behavioral health outcomes would be mitigated by systems that are prepared to provide longitudinal support to bereaved families. Many bereaved persons cited pressure to be “over it” several years after the event, and have expressed negative feelings are exacerbated by lingering grief.
Populations with a greater need for bereavement care are less likely to access it
Study after study notes that findings may not be generalizable because bereavement study participants are more likely to be white and affluent. Authors generally attribute this to a combination of comfort with seeking bereavement support and the means to participate in sessions (transportation, availability during working hours, etc.).
All deaths are different
The circumstances surrounding each death are influenced by myriad factors. Categorization of death by disease process or mechanical cause has utility in data collection, but it says nothing of the family’s experience of the event. Bereaved individuals have described a range of emotions following notification of death or diagnosis of life-limiting illness – extreme emotional shock, numbness, dissociation, blame, and fault to name a few – and their reaction to those emotions is unpredictable.
The bereaved may not “heal” and that’s okay
A growing body of evidence shows that some bereaved individuals experience serious longitudinal behavioral and physical health effects following the death of a loved one. This is especially true for some forms of loss like the death of a child. While many supporters may want the bereaved to “heal” or feel that they are “still mourning,” it is important to recognize that coping with a devastating loss takes time and that’s okay.