Dr. Kathie Supiano heads the Caring Connections at the University of Utah, and was recently interviewed by Dr. Gloria Horsley during the Association for Death Education and Counseling 2015 conference. As part of the university’s school of nursing program, Caring Connections is unique amongst the industry. “We are the only large, comprehensive bereavement program based in a college of nursing in the United States,” Dr. Supiano explains. With comprehensive backing from the university and state of Utah, Dr. Supiano says, “We have a wide variety of grief support groups that we offer.” There are options for those who have lost a loved one to suicide, lost a spouse, lost a baby and so on. The programs are based on type of loss and are each led by trained, licensed clinicians.
Each group lasts eight weeks and includes clinicians who donate their time. The programs happen three times per year, but there are also holiday-specific events. For example, the Seeds of Remembrance event is for Memorial Day Weekend and encourages those in grief to look back. Chris Williams, author of the book Let It Go, was the special speaker for the 2015 event.
What a Difference Support Makes
Results of grief support groups are reflected in the results Caring Connections has achieved with such solid support. Another special program, held in the winter, is Grief in the Holidays, which helps people move forward. Both aspects are key in grieving. Looking back and looking forward require practice and a safe place to experience these parts of grief. “People need to feel they are moving forward and they are growing and changing,” Dr. Supiano says.
“It’s very hard to do that work alone,” she explains. The world may want you to get over it, but coming to a place where people understand the sorrow can be very helpful. For those in Salt Lake City, Caring Connections can be that space.