As governments across the globe seek to contain the novel Coronavirus with social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the pandemic has created unique challenges for families struggling with grief and loss. To address these issues, the American Red Cross established a new service, the Virtual Family Assistance Center (VFAC), to share information and resources with individuals and families as they cope with emotional traumas and logistical challenges.

Families struggling with an unexpected loss and disrupted bereavement process are also navigating tremendous bureaucratic and procedural hurdles, including planning and organizing a funeral service, moving their loved one’s body, and navigating other issues related to custody, immigration, travel and their loved one’s estate.

The online support hub provides a number of resources including:

  • Someone to talk to. Families can request an appointment with the Red Cross or call 833-492-0094 to connect immediately with volunteer crisis counselors. Our trained volunteers can provide emotional and spiritual support as well as other helpful information and referrals.
  • Psychological first aid courses. The two-hour training courses, conducted by mental health professionals, can help individuals and community members learn to cope with fear and anxiety associated with COVID-19 and learn to help others in times of stress.
  • Other national and regional resources. The website provides a list of resources on emotional support and grief counseling, faith-based counseling, funeral information, legal resources, financial information services and veterans’ assistance.

As the Red Cross continues to provide relief to victims of disasters and collects blood products to bolster our region’s medical system, it is important our community also prioritize the emotional and mental health needs of our friends, family and neighbors.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, call us toll-free at 1-833-492-0094 or visit Services are available in both English and Spanish. All support is provided virtually and is completely confidential and free.

Written by Kailey Hultman, American Red Cross contributor