General Questions

Why only young adults?

Illness and death of loved ones is devastating for anyone at any age. We are specifically gathering young adults because we’ve found that the experience of grief in this community can sometimes come with its own unique isolation that we want to help undo. Grief support geared specifically towards young adults is scarce in comparison to grief support for older adults and children. For some young adults, they are among the first in their friend group to lose someone close, which can leave them without a peer community to turn to. Especially in the midst of a pandemic that is preventing folks from gathering and grieving in the ways we have in the past, we want to connect young adults to volunteer grief workers who can offer company in the wild ride of grief, and to other young adults who can say “me too.”

Aren’t there more kinds of grief than just grief that has to do with illness and death?

Yes, absolutely. Loss takes many forms beyond illness and physical death — life-altering changes in employment, housing, education and training, and access to stability and predictability are all especially present during this pandemic. We hope for everyone to receive the support they need in navigating these various forms of grief. For now, with our limited resources and capacities, we are responding directly to the swelling of life-threatening illness and death from COVID-19. We are focusing on specific grief for a specific crowd so we can do that really well.

Who are the network organizers and how did this project get started?

The network is organized by volunteers. We are a group of therapists, chaplains, and community organizers who saw an emerging need and decided to respond with this network. Many of us are young adults who have experienced big personal losses ourselves, and know how powerful it can be to have company in grief. This network is a representation of the community we need and are helping to create in the world.

The network was inspired and supported in part by the leadership of the NYC COVID Care Network and RUACH: Emotional and Spiritual Support. We are grateful for the individuals who consulted with us and for our ongoing partnerships. 

For a complete list of the network organizers and affiliates, please click here.

For Young Adults Seeking Support

What kind of support do you offer? For how long?

Our mission is to provide immediate, short term support and build long term connection. Initially, we offer short term (between 2-6 weeks) one-on-one grief support. After these sessions, your volunteer grief worker can refer you to local service agencies for long term support, if needed. Also, a member of the COVID Grief Network, you will have continued access to group spaces with other young adults in grief as they emerge.

Can my partner/children/family participate with me?

We’re so glad you want to share this experience with others! In this time of great need, we would love to offer this service to everyone. Right now we’re focusing on offering support to folks in their 20s and 30s who have lost someone close to COVID-19, or who currently have someone close seriously ill with COVID-19. If your partner or someone in your family fits the bill, they are welcome to fill out a “request for support” form! At this time, we are only offering 1:1 support, so they will be connected to their own volunteer.

How do we make matches?

Our goal is to facilitate a supportive connection with a volunteer grief worker. When possible, we use the information you provide in your “Request for Support” form to inform our matching process. We encourage you to include any specific preferences and we will do our best to accommodate them. 

What if I don’t like my volunteer grief worker?

Not everyone can be a perfect match! We first recommend respectful, thoughtful, and direct communication with your volunteer grief worker around what may or may not be working. If sharing directly doesn’t work, that’s what the COVID Grief Network organizers are here for! Please fill out this form and tell us a little bit about what’s not working and how we can better support you. Someone from our team will reach out shortly after you complete the form. 

For Volunteer Grief Workers

Do I qualify as a volunteer grief worker?

We see grief work taking a variety of forms in this present moment. While we are primarily composed of therapists, chaplains, spiritual directors, grief counselors, facilitators, coaches, mindfulness practitioners, and healers, anyone 18 or older who self-identifies as a trained volunteer grief worker may apply here to volunteer in the COVID Grief Network.

Do I need to be licensed to qualify as a volunteer grief worker?

No, you do not need to be licensed to qualify as a volunteer grief worker. We recognize that students, those in training, and those who practice in unlicensed modalities are among those skilled in offering grief support, and we welcome them.

Please note that even if a volunteer is licensed, they will only be providing grief support, and will not be providing professional mental health or spiritual care under their licensure.

How much time am I expected to put into this?

As much time as you can give! We ask that volunteer grief workers be willing to commit to a minimum of 1-2 hours of support a week, and barring any extenuating circumstances, a minimum of one complete 1:1 connection (6 weeks). You may remove yourself at any time by emailing your pod facilitator.

I’m not a volunteer grief worker. How else can I get involved?

Amazing! We all have different skills to bring to the table. We are also looking for support with these roles:

    • Pod Facilitation Leads — help support the pod facilitators (7-10 hrs/wk)
    • Outreach — connected into networks of young adults or grief workers? Join our outreach pod! (3-5hrs/wk)
    • Onboarding — interested in helping people plug into the network? (4-6 hrs/wk)
    • Internal Communications — help us keep network volunteers up to date (4-6 hrs/wk)

If any of these roles appeal to you, please fill out this form and let us know about your interest.

What support will I receive as a volunteer grief worker?

As a volunteer grief worker, you will have access to the support of the other volunteer grief workers in your pod, your pod facilitator, and the network at large.

We do not supervise or extensively train volunteers. Volunteers are onboarded into the network through a short training, and are given a sense of our values, orientation, purpose, and the legal bounds of the support they can offer. They are connected to and supported by each other in pods of 10 volunteer peers and can opt-in to more support if they like. We are operating on a mutual aid model; we connect individuals who need supportive listening to those who’ve said they can provide it.

Please note: even the volunteers that are licensed therapists are not offering “therapy” in their work through the network; they are offering short-term, supportive listening for young adults in need.