MILWAUKEE -- The coronavirus has killed more than 700 people in Wisconsin -- leaving hundreds of families to mourn without the usual way to grieve. Now, the American Cross of Wisconsin has launched a Virtual Family Assistance Center to support families struggling with loss and grief due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
With restrictions on how many people should gather in one place, funeral homes have looked empty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Because of the nature of this, you can’t just gather your friends and family and mourn for your loss. You’re really in a unique situation where you’re very alone," said Aubrey Dodd, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer.
The center provides free access to counseling as well as options for spiritual or faith-based services. There is also assistance with funeral planning -- and the resources are open to anyone.
"While COVID-19 is not a house fire or an earthquake, it is something that is absolutely a disaster that’s affecting people who are in need of help," said Dodd. “Even if you haven’t lost a loved one specifically from COVID-19, but you are just struggling financially or emotionally from the stress of everything going on in the world right now, you’re still welcome to reach out. We’re not going to turn anyone away."
People can visit the Virtual Family Assistance Center online to access a support hub with special virtual programs, information, referrals and services to support families in need. The hub will also connect people to other community resources provided by non-profit and government partners.
People without internet access can call 833-492-0094 for help.
To help, the Cross has set up a virtual team of specially trained mental health, spiritual care and health services volunteers who are:
- Connecting with families over the phone to offer condolences, support and access to resources that may be available .
- Providing support for virtual memorial services for families, including connecting with local faith-based community partners.
- Hosting online classes to foster resilience and facilitate coping skills.
- Sharing information and referrals to state and local agencies as well as other community organizations including legal resources for estate, custody, immigration or other issues.