Calvary Hospital 2nd Annual Grief Awareness Month

The team at Calvary Hospital hopes to raise awareness on all aspects of grief and loss here in New York and nationally.

Maria GeorgopoulosHi, I’m Maria Georgopoulos, Director of Bereavement Services here at Calvary Hospital. Grief can be isolating at any age and through every season.

This September marks our 2nd annual Grief Awareness Month, and we want to help those in our communities that are feeling challenged in their grief. Here at Calvary, our mission is to make sure that everyone experiencing grief has a safe place to go when a significant person in their life dies. These last several months, so many things were unfamiliar to us all. We have all had to yield and adjust, in so many ways.

For the first time ever, we moved many of our bereavement services and support groups online. Our bereavement group discussions cover all the different aspects of grief, including the more challenging ones such as guilt and anger in the aftermath of death. More recently, our conversations have been even heavier.

Many of us are feeling the emotional burden of our inability to participate in meaningful social and community-based rituals that have had to go virtual in recent months. These changes have a significant impact on the way we heal. It’s helpful to share with others who understand what you’re going through and it can be helpful to read about the experiences of others as you work to find your path. We hope you find the resource materials we have assembled helpful. My team and I want you to take this as a personal invitation to reach out to us should you have any questions.

Maria Georgopoulos, LMHC, FT
Director, Bereavement Services

Root Grounding Meditation

Yvette Ramirez

Yvette Ramirez
Calvary Chaplain

Calvary provides one of the New York metropolitan area’s most comprehensive bereavement support programs for adults, children and teens. Calvary’s bereavement services are available to anyone who has experienced a significant death in their lives. A connection to Calvary is not required.

Yvette Ramirez, a chaplain at Calvary Hospital, leads a grief support group in Spanish for those who have experienced the death of a spouse. This support group is available remotely via zoom for 20 participants. Yvette leads her group members through several grounding meditations, one being a ‘rooting,’ guided meditation that she uses to start each session.

We sat down recently with Yvette to talk about her group, her experience, and to learn more about her grief support practice.

Q: What is a Root Grounding Meditation? Why do you use it for grief counseling?

Yvette: I like to incorporate a Root Grounding Meditation at the beginning of each session because it allows the members to be more aware of themselves and their bodies.

I like this meditation and practice it consistently with my groups as I find it helps reduce stress and anxiety. I have found it also helps people come into a sense of control over themselves and the space they occupy within their current physical and emotional environment.

Root grounding is a practice, and like any practice, we can all become better at it over time. I have found that root grounding helps people get into the current moment, become more mindful, and present.

I feel these meditations can help you learn to control your inner gaze. When necessary, this type of practice allows a person to get back into the current moment and away from flashbacks or unwanted memories. Negative or challenging emotions surrounding one’s loss may make it more difficult to cope with the grief.

Root Grounding Meditations are designed to revitalize your body and mind in ways that are beneficial to grief healing.

Q: What is the process for a grounding meditation?

Yvette: When conducting guided Root Grounding Meditation, I start by asking each person to visualize themselves sitting on a strong, well-rooted tree trunk (e.g., like a mighty Oak, a flexible-graceful Weeping Willow or a towering Redwood.)

The initial steps for the root grounding meditation are simple and can be performed effectively by anyone, anywhere:

  • Make time for yourself. Start with 5 or even 10 minutes (you can set a timer if you’re doing this by yourself).
  • Start by standing up and closing your eyes
  • Picture yourself sitting on top of a strong tree trunk
  • Go inward (clear your thoughts) some people picture themselves in nature, for others focusing on the tree trunk alone is more helpful. (Find what works for you)
  • Take some nice deep breaths
  • Focus on the energy in your body; imagine that it is flowing down your back into the earth
  • Picture the tree as an extension of your body, extending through your feet
  • Continue to imagine the tree trunk traveling down through Earth until your trunk finally reaches the center of the Earth
  • While you are breathing, let any negative feelings escape your body. Leave any feelings of pain, frustration, anger, or bitterness in the center of the Earth
  • Push your energy upward. Imagine Earth’s energy flowing back up through your trunk

We believe a tree visualization can be helpful for those in spousal grief support because of its centering focus. Trees are also a symbol of growth and renewal.

I explain to my group that death is the first season because the initial grief period is the mourning season. To start, this meditation practice, many grieving individuals will picture a tree standing bare in winter.

As time passes many begin to imagine their tree traveling through the changing seasons as they travel through, and with, their grief.

Q: What are the emotional benefits of a grounding meditation for grief?

Yvette: The benefits of grounded meditation for grief include reducing anxiety, an increase in emotional and mental clarity, increased emotional feelings of peacefulness and calm, heightened awareness, and a sense of deeper connection.

I encourage our bereavement group participants to practice grounding meditation daily I believe it will help them see that there is a path to an enriched life.

Through this meditation two participants bonded by practicing this meditation. I encourage group members to connect with each other when we are not in session because it’s critical to have a community for support.

Q: Is Root Grounding something you can do when you feel overwhelmed with grief?

Yvette: I hear this statement from group members quite often, “I feel stress”. If the person experiencing grief feels stressed all the time and is still feeling anxious, this will be a good tool for them to add to their personal toolset.

There is no quick fix for grief. Grief is a process but there are things you can do to help manage your grief.

grounding meditation

Bereavement Support at Calvary Hospital


We produced a video to provide an overview of Calvary’s comprehensive bereavement support program for adults, children, and teens.
Please note that most of the footage was filmed prior to March 2020.

More Information
Anyone who is interested in participating in our bereavement groups must schedule a meeting with one of our bereavement counselors before attending their first session.

To schedule an appointment, please email lpappalardi@calvaryhospital.org, or call: 718-518-2281.

Bereavement Resources

Grief is a multifaceted response to loss and everyone has their own way of moving through it.

Calvary Hospital’s Bereavement Team has put together a selection of resources on the topic of grief. Be gentle with yourself.

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911.

Crisis Text line

In a crisis?

Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor

Free 24/7 support at your fingertips US and Canada: text 741741

https://www.crisistextline.org/

Samaritans Completely Confidential Hotline

Samaritans Completely Confidential Hotline

Samaritans free, non-religious 24-hour emotional support and crisis response hotline is available on an immediate and ongoing basis for people who are dealing with every kind of problem, situation, illness, trauma, or loss and need someone to talk to.

When You Need Someone to Talk to 24/7 – 212-673-3000

http://samaritansnyc.org/calling-the-hotline/

Crisis Call Center

Crisis Call Center

24/7/365 Crisis Hotline: (775) 784-809​
Crisis CHAT line: https://www.contact-usa.org/chat.html

Lifeline Crisis Chat is a service of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in partnership with CONTACT USA. It is the first service of its kind where crisis centers across the United States have joined together to form one national chat network that can provide online emotional support, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention services. Chat specialists are available to listen and support you through whatever difficult times you may be facing. ​Lifeline Crisis Chat is available in the United States and its territories.

http://crisiscallcenter.org/get-help-247/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

1-800-273-8255

Friendship Telephone Line For Seniors

Friendship Telephone Line For Seniors

A Crisis Intervention Hotline as well as a “warm line” for non-urgent calls, all specifically designed to serve older people.

1-800-971-0016

IMAlive

IMAlive

IMAlive is a live online network that uses INSTANT MESSAGING to respond to people in crisis.

https://www.imalive.org/who-we-are/about-imalive/

Online Crisis Network

Online Crisis Network

If you (or someone you know) are depressed and thinking about suicide, please call 1-800-442-HOPE (4673) to talk to a caring crisis hotline volunteer. Your call is free and confidential.

http://hopeline.com/hotline/

Online Support for Child Loss

Online Support for Child Loss

The rooms supply support, encouragement, and friendship. The friendly atmosphere encourages conversation among friends; friends who understand the emotions you’re experiencing. There are general bereavement sessions as well as more specific sessions.

https://www.compassionatefriends.org/find-support/online-communities/online-support/

2020 Recommended Reading List

To help navigate your path of loss, we have collected a list of books we have read and recommend to help comfort you.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
By Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.”.

View on Amazon

I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One
By Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D.
Whether you’re grieving the sudden loss of a loved one or helping someone else through their grief, I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye offers a comforting hand to help guide you through the grieving process, from the first few weeks to the longer-term emotional and physical effects. It then reveals some of the myths of the grieving process and what really happens as you navigate through the pain.

View on Amazon

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One
By Pema Chödrön
How can we live our lives when everything seems to fall apart—when we are continually overcome by fear, anxiety, and pain? The answer, Pema Chödrön suggests, might be just the opposite of what you expect.

Here, in her most beloved and acclaimed work, Pema shows that moving toward painful situations and becoming intimate with them can open up our hearts in ways we never before imagined.

View on Amazon

Please be patient, I'm grieving

Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving: How to Care For and Support the Grieving Heart
By Gary Roe
Bestselling author, hospice chaplain, and grief specialist Gary Roe gives you a look at the grieving heart – the thoughts, emotions, and struggles within.

If you’re wanting to help someone who’s grieving, you’ll get a glimpse of what’s going on inside them and be better able to love and support them. If you’re in the midst of grief and loss, you’ll see yourself as you read, and be encouraged.

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And I Love You So: A Story of Love and Loss

And I Love You So: A Story of Love and Loss
by Melanie Baker Trimarco
“And I Love You So” is a beautiful song written by folk singer Don McLean and was a hit for singer Perry Como. But for her late Mark and for Melanie, it was the epitome of their love story.

They both sought out love and finally found it in each other.

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Surviving: Finding Your Way from Grief to Healing

Surviving: Finding Your Way from Grief to Healing
by Gary Sturgis
The death of a spouse or a close loved one is one of the most devastating experiences an individual suffers. Whether it is sudden or after a prolonged illness, death and subsequent grief are life-changing. One day you’re together, and the next day you’re not. You feel like life will never be “normal” again.

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Comfort for the Grieving Adult Child's Heart Hope and Healing After Losing Your Parent

Comfort for the Grieving Adult Child’s Heart Hope and Healing After Losing Your Parent

by Gary Roe
COMFORT. HOPE. HEALING. This loss of a parent is painful. The loss of a mother or father can be traumatic. Oblivious to our suffering, the world around us speeds on as if nothing happened. Stunned, shocked, sad, confused, and angry, weblink in disbelief. Our hearts are broken. We’ve known them all our lives. How could they be gone? We look for comfort. Our broken, grieving hearts need it to survive.

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Partnered Grief: When Gay and Lesbian Partners Grieve

Partnered Grief: When Gay and Lesbian Partners Grieve
Harold Ivan Smith
When Gay and Lesbian Partners Grieve. “In a culture that expects grievers to get over it and move on”, how do you intentionally and deliberately express your grief for a partner?

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