CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way of the Coastal Bend is offering a free, virtual panel addressing grief.
“It won’t answer all of your questions about grief, or give you all of the solutions, but it will really be the beginning of a conversation about what is grief, what does it look like, what are some of the signs and symptoms, and what are some of the resources available to help anybody who may be suffering any kind of loss,” said Libby Averyt, the President & CEO of United Way.
Averyt said the panel is aimed towards anyone who has experienced any sort of grief; the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, isolation, or anything else due to the pandemic. It will also show people how to help their loved ones navigate grief.
“We specifically are going to talk about how to support other people who may be experiencing grief, some of the dos and don’ts,” Averyt said.
The panel will be lead by Kristi Phillips, the Executive Director at Family Counseling Services, and Dr. Nelly Garcia Blow, a geriatrician at CHRISTUS Spohn Shoreline’s Level II Trauma Center.
“Both of them are really well-versed on the signs of grief; some of the physical signs of grief, and effects of grief, and to help ourselves, and best equip ourselves to deal with those challenging times,” Averyt said.
Averyt knows first-hand the toll the pandemic has taken on families. She lost her husband in June 2020 to cancer, and her mother in November 2020 due to heart failure.
“I experienced, and continue to experience, the kind of grief that people imagine and understand to expect with the death of a loved one. But on top of that, I had the isolation of COVID, and it became very clear to me very quickly that while I was dealing with a very raw and deep sadness, the whole world was dealing with some sort of loss. The isolation certainly compounded my grief a bit,” she said.
Averyt said she knew resources available to her, and a counselor, and support of her friends and family, helped her navigate her grief.
“I did some of my own self-care types of things, had great friends and support to help me through that, but not everybody knows about those tools, especially if they’re thrown into grief unexpectedly. It’s been a very challenging year, I know I’m not alone in that. I also think we can serve our community best when we can share our own painful experiences, and use that knowledge to help somebody else,” she said.