Katherine Shear Endorses Petition for a White House Bereavement Office
Marion E. Kenworthy Professor M. Katherine Shear, an internationally known psychiatrist, grief expert, and founder of the Center for Complicated Grief (CCG) at Columbia School of Social Work, has endorsed a petition calling for the creation of the first-ever White House Office of Bereavement Care in response to the nation’s unprecedented mortality crises—gun violence, death by suicide, overdose, and COVID-19.
The new entity would, among other goals, coordinate a centralized bereavement care strategy across U.S. government agencies and provide an action plan to address bereavement care as an urgent public health crisis. It is the brainchild of bereaved parent Joyal Mulheron, who began a grassroots policy organization called Evermore in 2017, in response to her family’s experience with the death of her five-month-old daughter as well as the killing of Trayvon Martin and the Sandy Hook shootings. A scientist by training, Mulheron, has been advocating at the state and federal levels on behalf of bereaved families for over fifteen years.
“It’s essential that those who have experienced bereavement during the pandemic get the help they need as they are at greater risk of developing prolonged grief disorder, said Shear, “and a national, coordinated effort for bereavement support would be instrumental.” Shear is frequently quoted in mainstream media coverage of the grief associated with deaths from COVID-19.