Tidewell Hosts LGBTQ+ Bereavement Support Group in Honor of Pride Month

Regardless of the circumstances, the loss of a beloved partner is an overwhelming event that comes with a myriad of aftershocks, from navigating health care to settling estates to the grieving process.

And according to SAGE, a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older adults, nine in 10 respondents worry about discrimination in care settings if providers find out about their sexual orientation or gender identity, including including after the death of a partner. .

The Tidewell Family Bereavement Support Center in Ellenton seeks to change that.

This Pride month, Tidewell has relaunched its “Journeying Through LGBTQ+ Grief and Loss” program, a six-week support group that meets every Thursday at 10 a.m. The group is free for attendees and members, no matter how long their loved ones have passed.

Tidewell CEO Jonathan Fleece said that as the country celebrates Pride Month in June, the center is “honoured” to offer this kind of support.

Tidewell grief specialist Callie Weber adds that demand has been high.

“We are happy to provide this safe and welcoming space, which we believe will be effective for attendees,” she says.

Groups will be led by Certified Bereavement Counselors and Art Therapists. The art-based program will offer a variety of therapeutic modalities for individuals to manage their grief. Each session will begin with a “getting to know you” time, during which participants can share the story of their deceased loved one.

Individuals will also learn about the grieving process, including recognizing the difference between normal grief and broader mental health issues, how to create a support system, and self-care techniques.

“At the end of the session, we look to the future,” says Weber. “We ask who each person wants to be in this next chapter of life, and how we can healthily integrate the memories of the deceased person.”

Tidewell offered a similar ongoing group a few years ago, and Weber says former participants have found it life-changing. It provides a safe and confidential space to openly discuss identity, especially for older people who have had difficult-to-disclose backgrounds.

Also, grief is often thought of as something we move on from after a while.

“Anyone who has lost someone understands that grieving is an ongoing process,” Weber says.

She adds that it’s a good idea to explain to those around you that you’re looking for additional support in coping with grief and that you’ll need outside support from them as well. She says friends and family are usually very supportive.

If you feel you need more help, Tidewell can connect you with higher levels of care, community partners, and LGBTQ+ groups. Tidewell also offers free one-on-one sessions with their grief counselors.

“It doesn’t matter how long a loved one died,” Weber says. “You are always welcome here.”

The Tidewell Family Grief Center’s journey through LGBTQ+ grief and loss will begin Thursday, June 9 and end Thursday, July 14. Another group should take place in the fall. The center is located at 4151 37th St. E., Palmetto. To join the group, click here or call (941) 845-3061.

Virginia S. Braud