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Zooming in on grief via webinar

Wendy Liu and Nathan MacArthur

As grief counsellor Nathan MacArthur completed his PhD on grief he knew people going through this common experience needed more.

“I found people wanted more quality information about what grief looks like and they wanted to explore the aspects of grief that are most difficult, such as the taboos that are very hard to talk about,” Nathan says.

Nathan and his business partner Wendy Liu also realised that when people are working their way through grief, one-on-one counselling isn’t the choice for everyone.

Back in 2019, Wendy was employed as a forensic counsellor working alongside the NSW Coroners Court, and Nathan was a local health district bereavement counselling service coordinator.

“We met at a professional development event shortly before I left my role to set up in private practice. Wendy contacted me a few months later as she too was beginning in private practice. We were in touch by phone and email a couple of times before the pandemic hit Australia and we all went into Covid-19 lockdown.

“When that happened, Wendy and I kept hearing from people about how their grief was now even more isolating and how their family and friends were themselves going through a collective grief with the pandemic.”

Pre-Covid-19 the grieving would have gained support from the people around them, the people who grieved with them and then socialised with them afterwards, Nathan explains.

But social isolation caused by lockdown has changed this all over the world, he says.

“So, we took a leap of faith! Having only met each other in person once, almost a year before, having never presented together, let alone on Zoom, we went with our instinct and decided to collaborate.”

In April 2020, as COVID-19 began to change the way we all connect, they began hosting live, online Grief Information Sessions. Their aim was to provide frank, practical, and sensitively delivered information at a time when people were feeling especially isolated.

“We regularly receive feedback from webinar participants about how helpful it is to know that there isn’t one way to grieve, that grief is unpredictable and transformative, and that there are others who are going through the unimaginable too,” Nathan says.

In the 40 minute webinars that Nathan and Wendy developed, for crowd sizes ranging from about 20 to more than 100, the team knew that what Nathan calls ‘the wisdom of the crowd’ would offer enormous benefits.

Yet they also knew, with those large numbers, it wouldn’t be possible for everyone attending to share their experiences. So they’ve developed another way of dealing with this.

“Towards the end we invite people to put on their cameras and see all the other people from all over the country who have joined us, so that they can see other people going through the same thing.”

To find out more about Nathan and Wendy’s webinars, go to: https://sydneygriefcounselling.com/grief-info

For more on grief, go to:

Even Harvard knows about grief. Go to:

To explore death and grief, read A Good Death: a compassionate and practical guide to prepare for the end of life. Follow these links to read a chapter excerpt and to purchase.

Death https://good-grief.com.au/a-good-death-book-margaret-rice/

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