As Covid-19 deaths continue to rise, a conversation is bubbling up in Washington about what kind of support is available to grieving families, and whether bereavement care, like other forms of healthcare, should receive federal funding, and if so, how much.
In March, as much of the nation was shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic, nine key U.S. Department of Health & Human Service agencies, including National Institutes of Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were pushed by Evermore, a non-profit advocacy group, to report to Congress what grief-specific resources are available right now to Americans in need. Follow-up came Sunday evening, July 12 when the House Committee on Appropriations made the same request as lawmakers debate the 2021 federal budget. Both requests are historic, marking the first attempts to get federal agencies to report on the state of bereavement care in the United States.
Joyal Mulheron, founder of Evermore, believes not enough is being done. “Demonstrating the absence of bereavement care in our healthcare system will create momentum towards a more comprehensive public health strategy,” she says. “This is the only way professionals will receive the quality tools and resources they need and vulnerable families will get timely and substantive support, rather than the current method of solving these challenges with thoughts and prayers sent to survivors through Twitter and press conferences.”
“Nearly every American will experience bereavement at some point in their life, yet appropriate care for survivors is not yet a nationwide public health priority,” Ms. Mulheron explains.
Below are statistics that reflect the urgency of Evermore’s campaign. For more data, click here.
- Bereaved children (1 in 14 children in the U.S) experience lower self-esteem and their grades suffer in school. They are at higher risk of depression and substance abuse.
- Nearly 90 percent of detained youth have experienced the death of a loved one and 25% subsequently joined a gang.
- Bereaved parents are at risk of premature death, as early as age 40.
Feeling moved to help? Make your voice known in Congress. Share with your representatives why bereavement care is important to you. Tell them to support bereavement care in the FY21 health appropriations report. Don’t know who to call? Look here.