Bereavement support group planned for those who experience loss from suicide

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be challenging. But when that loss is the result of suicide, there can be stigma and shame that can make it even harder for survivors to heal.

Terri Yohman, director of the Marriage and Family Department for the Diocese of Cleveland, works with community grief groups to ensure they have the necessary support and resources to help those who need their services. Often these services are a first step for those grieving the loss of a loved one. But Yohman said things got even more challenging for some during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community bereavement groups can provide comfort, peer support, and a social network to help the bereaved. However, there are instances where more intensive or focused assistance from a trained professional may be required. Dealing with a suicide victim is one possible scenario.

“These are very sensitive issues,” Yohman said.

To help those who need these resources, Yohman said her office — in partnership with some parishes and Cornerstone of Hope — is planning a special 10-week, closed grief group beginning September 12 in St. Albert the Great’s parish in North Royalton.

Guided by the Christian values ​​of compassion and service, Cornerstone of Hope offers a variety of services dedicated to counseling, support and education as they walk clients on the path of hope. The non-profit organization was founded in 2003 by a local Catholic couple who suddenly lost their seemingly healthy 3-year-old son to an infection caused by bacterial meningitis.

The program, conducted by two Cornerstone of Hope professional counselors, is limited to 15 people who complete an admission process and are accepted into the group. Yohman invites anyone seeking help after a loss from suicide and interested in the program to contact her at [email protected] or call 216-696-6525, ext. 2322.

Once she has spoken with those interested, Yohman will refer them to a grief counselor to complete the admissions/application process. Participants are expected to commit to attending all 10 sessions, each lasting approximately 90 minutes to two hours. A small fee is charged for the program.

“You will work with a professional counselor who will guide you in a group environment,” she said. Hopefully, by the time the program is complete, participants will have bonded and built a social network to support one another, Yohman said. “Maybe they can even help expand the program to the community level,” she added.

Looking ahead, Yohman hopes to offer additional targeted grief programs for those dealing with other specialized areas of loss, such as: B. through opioids or the death of a child.

In addition to parish bereavement groups, the Catholic Cemetery Association offers a variety of resources for mourners. For more information, contact Rhonda Abrams, Bereavement Coordinator, [email protected] or call 216-930-4866.

click here for more information on the special bereavement program for those grieving after a suicide loss or for a link to contact Yohman.

Photos: CNS/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

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