SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — What’s been a long, painful pandemic has taken grief to a new level for hundreds, maybe thousands of Central New Yorkers who lost loved ones to the virus or who simply couldn’t say goodbye and mourn properly because of it.
Inside the walls of HOPE for Bereaved is a support group trying to help families cope without closure.
The butterfly is a symbol of hope. It’s a powerful thing that feels out of reach for many families, and it’s what Walt Stein is trying to bring to those who lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For some people coming here, they had to pull the plug to let their loved one go and they question if they did the right thing.Walt Stein – Counselor, Educator HOPE for Bereaved
He and counselor Bonnie Tucci run the COVID support group.
“COVID gave grieving another layer. With COVID it gave restrictions. It’s a different kind of loss because you couldn’t grieve and have the funerals, you couldn’t have the closure you needed.” — Bonnie Tucci
The duo is helping people work through each layer of grief.
For Walt, it’s personal. His mom died during the pandemic.
“There’s so much hurt and pain that sometimes you can’t see the path in front of you,” he said.
Here, in their safe space, they’re walking the same path together.
“We only share our experience, strength, and hope with each other but we don’t criticize anyone,” Stein said.
Their stories and paths may be different but they share a similar pain caused by the pandemic.
Those who join the group, in person or virtually, can find strength in support.
“Hopefully, talking at a support group and doing that, you can go out into the world and say, ‘I’m ok,'” Tucci said.
No matter what stage of grief you’re in, they say it helps to know you’re not alone.
As we continue to work through our grief and talk about it we can move forward. The cacoon breaks open and then we come out like a butterfly, we have a new way of living.Walt Stein
The support group at HOPE for Bereaved meets at 6:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of every month.
You can join in person or via Zoom.
To learn more, call 315-475-9675.