At Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, the entire team is dedicated to going beyond its mission for helping grieving families, expanding their services while continuing to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the community they serve.

As such, as the website reminds us all, they have modified their programming and events to ensure the safety of their staff, volunteers, and the families they work with amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

From mid-March on, when it was clear that a pandemic was being unleashed on the world, under Executive Director Mary Robinson’s guidance and the support of their board of directors, they quickly transitioned to all virtual support groups.  Given that the two key audiences that Imagine focuses on are surviving parents and the children who have lost a parent, sibling, or other significant loved one, they have been alternating each week between online Zoom support groups for each these, with one for parents and one for children. This gives the families a chance to have confidential conversations and share laptops or other devices for the call.

Along with the constancy of the support groups, the organization has also added many other virtual resources designed to support all of those impacted by the virus.

There are webinars specifically focused on providing coping tools for teachers, school staff and guidance counselors to help them comfort the students as well as each other. They need to be able to help everyone associated with the school manage their grieving in a positive manner.

Next there are webinars specifically for parents, offering them the resources and strategies they need to comfort their children. There is an added challenge when a child has already lost one parent because they are terrorized at the thought of losing their surviving parent. The COVID-19 outbreak is causing more tension and fear than ever.   

Along those same lines, on their YouTube channel Imagine has created activities to give parents and children the opportunity to interact in a fun manner using arts and crafts and simple supplies found around the home to express deep feelings, manage anxiety and deal with the unimaginable.  

As newly grieving families seek out services and support from Imagine, they are invited to attend an orientation and virtual tour of the facility so they will be comfortable when they can actually visit the facility in person.

Along with the needs of the families and schools they serve, the staff at Imagine is keenly aware of the need to offer support for the front line responders. Along with teachers, there are nurses, nonprofit volunteers, social workers – all those dealing with those who suffer from mental health challenges, hunger, homelessness or abusive situations – and who themselves need to exercise self care. These complimentary Wednesday evening virtual counseling events designed for First Responders and Other Helpers are drawing participants from beyond New Jersey.  

Mary and her wonderful team at Imagine know better than anyone, we are all grieving now. The fear, stress and anxiety that accompanies grief depletes energy, leaving its victims exhausted, frazzled and unable to help others or themselves. So from family members to school staff to first responders and other helpers, Imagine has created the virtual programs that deliver the essential counseling and support needed by all.

For more information about Imagine and COVID-19 resources visit their website at www.imaginenj.org or take an Imagine a World Virtual tour of their mission and center.