CaringBridge: Creating a Network of Support Online

Several times in the last few weeks I've had occasion to use a wonderful online service that, if you're not aware of it already, I'd like to share with all of you.

CaringBridge is an innovative, non-profit organization that provides free Web sites to connect people experiencing a significant health challenge to family and friends, making each health journey easier. Fulfilling its mission "to amplify the love, hope and compassion in the world, making each health journey easier," CaringBridge websites offer a personal and private space to communicate and show support, saving time and emotional energy when health matters most.

How CaringBridge Works
Each site is unique, easy to create and simple to use.  Authors add health updates and photos to share their story, while visitors leave messages in the guestbook, creating a network of support for the patient.

Online Community of Care

A personal CaringBridge website brings family and friends together online, surrounding a patient and their caregivers with the love, hope and compassion they need during a difficult time. Since 1997, more than half a million CaringBridge websites have been created. Your free CaringBridge website has all the tools you need to keep your family and friends updated during a difficult time.

If you don't have the energy, the time or the skills to create a CaringBridge site for your care recipient yourself, this may be an ideal "assignment" for that computer-savvy family member or friend who's offered to help. Visit the How It Works page to learn how to get started. 



Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
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Related:
 

Caregiving and Hospice, January 23 - January 29

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  • Physician-author launches site to promote hospice care with video support for caregiving,

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 23 - January 29

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Coping with Pet Loss, January 23 - January 29

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  • How to care for the dying and healthy grief are your companion animal's last gifts to you, via @

Look to Your Hospice for Grief Support

In a recently published article entitiled Demystifying Hospice Care, medical news and information reporter William Stroh argues that hospice organizations need to do a better job of informing the public about the services they provide.  He urges them "to fire up a dialogue with people in their community about hospice care" and "engage with the community on a regular basis through popular sharing sites such as Facebook and Twitter."

I couldn't agree more, and I would hope that through such efforts, more patients and their families come to understand that when a life-limiting illness no longer responds to treatment aimed at cure, you can turn to hospice to provide the comfort, care and support you need ~ but did you also know that your local hospice organization may be one of your best sources for bereavement information, comfort and support, both before and after a death?

As an example, in addition to the compassionate care it provides to the individuals and families it serves in greater Phoenix and in central Arizona, Hospice of the Valley (HOV) also offers a vast array of Bereavement Services, including grief information, books and reading lists; individual bereavement counseling at no cost to those whose family members were patients of Hospice of the Valley; listings of bereavement support groups sponsored by HOV, as well as by others in the community; and referral to appropriate resources.  Contact Hospice of the Valley's Bereavement Services, 602.530.6970 or visit HOV's Grief Support Web page for further information.

In this touching video, a daughter describes how the bereavement support she obtained from Hospice of the Valley helped her cope with the death of her mother:



If you're anticipating or coping with the loss of a loved one and feeling a need for information, comfort and support, I encourage you to look to your local hospice to learn what bereavement services are available to you and your family.

Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here


© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC

Caregiving and Hospice, January 16 - January 22

Best selections from Grief Healing's Twitter stream this week:

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 16 - January 22

Best selections from Grief Healing's Twitter stream this week:
  • Finding the Zing In Your Life After the Death of a Child: Free Webinar from Open to Hope,  

Coping with Pet Loss, January 16 - January 22

Best selections from Grief Healing's Twitter stream this week:

Finding the Zing In Your Life After the Death of a Child: Free Webinar from Open to Hope

This announcement comes to us from Neil Chethik, Executive Editor of the Open to Hope Web site:

You are invited to join Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley on Monday, January 24, 2011 as they interview Ron Villano, M.S., LMHC, ASAC on Finding the Zing in Your Life after the Death of a Child. Ron Villano is the leading expert of change. As a bereaved father, he speaks from the heart.  As a licensed psychotherapist, he counsels others on working through difficult times. As a nationally-recognized speaker and author, Ron appears before sold-out audiences across the country.  His fun, captivating and approachable style creates the powerful, life-changing moments you have been looking for. 

This free webinar takes place on Monday, January 24, 2011 from 5  to 6 pm Pacific Time, 7 to 8 pm Mountain Time, and 8 to 9 pm Eastern Time.

Afer registering you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees require Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003
Macintosh®-based attendees require Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer
 
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at
http://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/469505270

Caregiving and Hospice, January 9 - January 15

Best selections from Grief Healing's Twitter stream this week:

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 9 - January 15

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Coping with Pet Loss, January 9 - January 15

Best selections from Grief Healing's Twitter stream this week:

Tips for Helping Children and Adolescents in Grief

Children and adolescents grieve just as deeply as adults, but depending on their cognitive and emotional development, they will experience and express their grief differently from the grown-ups around them. Moving in and out of grief is natural for youngsters, and the symptoms of grief may come and go, varying in intensity. Their response will depend on the knowledge and skills available to them at the time of the loss. Having had less prior experience with crisis and its consequences, their repertoire of coping skills is simpler, their capacity to confront the reality of loss more limited and their ability to find meaning in life’s crises less mature. If surprised or embarrassed by the intensity of their grief, they may try to hide it or disguise it. Parents, relatives, teachers and friends are wise to watch and to tune in to their children and adolescents, to listen to them, be there for them and if unsure of what’s going on, to ask! More than anything else, children need their parents and the other adults in their world to be honest with them. They need accurate, factual information, freedom to ask questions and express their feelings, inclusion in decisions, discussions and family commemorative rituals, stable, consistent attention from their caretakers, and time to explore and come to terms with the meaning of their loss.
  • Recognize that death and loss are natural parts of living. Shielding children from grief is futile and gives them no role models to learn healthy, normal coping behaviors.
  • Be open and meticulously honest. Children know when adults are shading the truth. If children discover that you’ve distorted the truth or lied to them, they’ll have a great deal of trouble trusting you again.
  • First find out what the children already know or think they know about dying and death.
  • Validate feelings and encourage children to share their thoughts, fears and observations about what has happened.
  • Offer explanations that are age appropriate and at the child’s level of understanding. A child under age five needs comfort and support rather than detailed explanations, whereas a child over age five needs information that is simple, accurate, plain and direct.
  • Explain that in the circle of life, all living things will die someday and that death causes changes in a living thing.
  • Help children understand what “dead” means (that the body stops working and won’t work anymore) and that death is not the same as sleeping (that the sleeping body is still working, but just resting).
  • Don’t use confusing or misleading euphemisms such as “passed away,” “lost” or “gone on.” Such phrases imply the one who died is on a trip and will return, leave children feeling rejected or abandoned, or encourage them to go searching for the individual or hold out hope for his or her return.
  • Explain how we might feel when someone dies: sad, mad, or confused, and we may cry sometimes. Let your children know that laughing and playing are still okay, too, and that you respect their need to be children at this sad and difficult time.
  • Relieve the child of any feelings of responsibility for the death; magical thinking may lead a child to conclude that something she or he did, wished or imagined somehow caused the death.
  • Avoid telling children that the dead person was so good or so special that God wanted him or her to be with Him in heaven. Children may become angry with God or fear that they (or you) will be chosen next.
  • Respect and encourage your children’s needs to express and share feelings of sadness. When you bring up the subject, you’re showing your own willingness to talk about it. When in doubt about your children’s thoughts and feelings, ask.
  • Don’t feel as if you must have all the answers; sometimes just listening is enough. Expect that young children will ask and need answers to the same questions over and over again.
  • Don’t cut off their feelings by noting how well your children are handling their grief or how brave or strong they are. Let them see you upset and crying, which implies that it’s all right to cry for those we love and lose.
  • Children and adolescents may be reluctant to express their thoughts and feelings verbally. Encourage them to express their grief and preserve their memories in a variety of ways, including art, music, journal writing, story-telling and picture collecting.
  • Let children and adolescents plan and participate in commemorative family rituals.
  • Recognize that teens are already struggling with the enormous physical and psychological changes and pressures of adolescence. No longer children, but not yet mature adults, they still need adult supervision, guidance, and consistent, compassionate support.    
  • Don’t deprive teens of their own need to mourn by pressuring them to “be strong” for a surviving parent, younger siblings or other family members.
  • Understand that teens don’t like to stand out and feel different from their friends; they want to belong, and normally turn to one another for support. But if a teen’s friends have never experienced the death of a loved one, it’s unlikely that they can fully understand what the bereaved adolescent is feeling or experiencing. Grieving teens do best when they’re helped to connect with other teens who’ve also experienced a death. (The Compassionate Friends now offers an online support group on Facebook aimed at teens who've lost a sibling: Sounds of the Siblings.)
  • Assure adolescents that conflict in relationships between teens and adults is a normal part of growing up, and offer them every opportunity to vent their feelings about their relationship with the person who died. Teens striving to separate from authority figures and find their own identity normally feel somewhat alienated from parents, siblings, and other family members, and if a loved one dies during this turbulent time, they can be left with feelings of guilt and unfinished business.
  • Give teenagers permission not to be grieving all the time. If they’ve expressed their feelings and talked about the loss with others (family, friends, teachers and other helpers) it may not be useful for them to focus further on their loss. It’s not disloyal of them to want to put their grief aside and enjoy life again.
  • Be on the alert for signs that a teen may need extra help (depression; drastic changes in sleeping or eating habits; falling grades; substance abuse; sexual acting out; deteriorating relationships with family and friends).
  • Children and adolescents will cope only as well as the adults around them; helping yourself will help your children.
  • Alert significant adults in your child or adolescent’s life (family doctor, teachers, school counselor, caregivers, neighbors, relatives, friends) about the death in your family. Ask their help in keeping a watchful eye on your youngster, and ask for their additional support and understanding during this difficult time.
  • Consider enrolling your child or adolescent in a support program or summer camp for children and their families. Such groups are offered periodically throughout the year by hospices and other community agencies. (See, for example, Camp Erin: Grieving Camps for Children.)
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
If you’d like Grief Healing Blog updates delivered right to your inbox, you’re cordially invited to subscribe to our weekly Grief Healing NewsletterSign up here

Related Articles and Resources:

Understanding and Managing Grief, January 2 - January 8

Best selections from Grief Healing's Twitter stream this week:

Caregiving and Hospice, January 2 - January 8

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Coping with Pet Loss, January 2 - January 8

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Caregiving and Hospice, December 26 - January 1

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