COVID-19 information and updates
Dear Highmark Caring Place Families,
It is difficult to believe that it's been so long since we left our Highmark Caring Place buildings and headed home to begin to figure out how to live in a pandemic. As we all know, this journey has been difficult, to say the least. Life as we knew it changed so abruptly. We have all been struggling to pick up the pieces and create a new normal for ourselves and our families a feeling many of you are all too familiar with. While we aren't in physical contact with you all as we were in the past, please know you are never far from our minds.
As the pandemic continues, the health and well-being of the families we serve, our volunteers, our staff, and the community continues to be our highest priority. We continue to follow all recommended guidelines, especially those regarding large group gatherings. Based on these guidelines, we are continuing with the suspension of in-person peer support groups and other Caring Place in-person programming until further notice.
Now some good news! We have developed a virtual online program to provide support to grieving children and families. We ran a pilot program this summer and are currently launching Caring Place Virtual for our upcoming fall groups, serving families in Erie, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Warrendale and surrounding areas. If you or anyone you know are in need of grief support after the death of a family member, please reach out to us for details on how to participate in our virtual peer support groups. Learn more details about Caring Place Virtual.
We are committed to supporting you during this time of uncertainty and anxiety. Caring Place staff members are available by phone during normal business hours at all four of our sites should you have concerns for yourself or your children that you would like to discuss. We have compiled below a list of resources that might be helpful to you and your family. You can also find Highmark Caring Place information on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages.
Director, Highmark Caring Place
Highmark Caring Place Virtual
Caring Place Virtual brings the support group experience online. Learn more about Highmark Caring Place Virtual!
- The Highmark Caring Place: Finding New Ways to Care during COVID-19, an interview with Terese Vorsheck
- Responding to Change and Loss, National Alliance for Grieving Children
- Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association
- Keeping Your Distance to Stay Safe (The emotional impact of Social Distancing and how to cope), American Psychological Association
- Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource, National Association of School Psychologists
- Creative Activities to Do With Kids At Home, Art With Heart
- Social versus physical distancing, Actively Moving Forward
- Strategies for Managing Anxiety and Fear in You and Your Children
- Resources to help Families during COVID-19
- Coronavirus and the Six Needs of Mourning
- How to Talk to Children About the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Helping Kids Grieve
- Seeing Other People Wearing Masks: A Story for Children
- The Golden Sweater
- National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health: Covid-19 Resources
Caring For Your Grieving Child: Frequently Asked Questions
Below are articles written by Caring Place staff members addressing the questions most often heard from caregivers about their grieving children. Some of the articles are directly related to COVID-19, and some of them address more general concerns of adults caring for children who are grieving.
- My Child Is Worried
- Grief Is a Long Journey
- Losses of Many Kinds
- More Losses of Many Kinds
- Why Don't My Kids Look Like They're Grieving
- How Do We Celebrate Holidays Now?
- How Do We Celebrate Holidays Now? video introduction
- Feeling Off Balance
- Sometimes Nights Are the Hardest
- Play Is the Work of Children
- "Onward": Wishes, Bonds and Memories after the Death of a Parent
Hope Through Children's Books: Videos and Activities
During this time when we can't gather together, the Caring Place staff have put together a series of videos for you and your children to watch together. In each video, a Caring Place staff member reads a book to your child and you. During the video, you will be guided to pause and talk with your child about their response to something being talked about in the book (e.g. "What makes you feel worried?"). Each video has an activity related to the book that you and your child can do together, or they can do on their own.
- "How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids" by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer
- "In My Heart: A Book of Feelings" by Jo Witek
- "Chocolate Chipped: A Smelly Book about Grief" by Shelley Gilbert & Vicky Baruch
- "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst
- "Star Wars: Search Your Feelings (Galactic Basic Edition)" by Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy
- "My Heart Sings a Sad Song" by Gary Alan Shockley
Hope from Home Caring Place Activities
Activities at the Caring Place are ways in which children and families can express their feelings, preserve memories and develop coping skills. Although we can't get together at the Caring Place right now, we invite you to join us as we lead you in some activities that you and your family can do from home. These are fun ways for families to connect and have some meaningful conversations while having a good time together. In these videos, see Caring Place staff members demonstrate how to do some of these simple activities from your own home.
Holding On To HOPE #hope4COVID19
The butterfly is a worldwide symbol of HOPE. Here is an opportunity for all of us to come together and Hold On To HOPE during these difficult days. Print one of our full color Holding On To HOPE signs or the Holding On To HOPE coloring sheet. Then take a picture or video with one of the signs and SHARE it on your social media using the hashtag #hope4COVID19. In your message, let everyone know who you are Holding On To HOPE for (e.g. the doctors, the nurses, my family). Learn more about and participate in Holding On To HOPE.
Don't have a printer? No problem! Any butterfly will do. Get creative, draw your own butterfly and be sure to use the hashtag #hope4COVID19. Remember, even in the darkness, finding HOPE is always possible.
Funerals During a Pandemic: Honoring Loved Ones in This Difficult Time
We know that traditional funerals meet many emotional and social needs when a loved one has died. But with restrictions on gatherings, funerals as we've known them are hard to hold at this time. We've put together resources written by Caring Place staff to help families find alternative ways to say goodbye even while social distancing, along with additional resources from other experts that you and your family might find helpful.