New Bereavement Center Offers Recovery Support After Overdose Deaths


People seeking bereavement counseling in the Southern Tier now have another option.

Lourdes Hospice was already offering bereavement counseling, but had no space dedicated to it. Most of the employees were out in the field, and places to meet clients became harder to find.

In the new Vestal facility, Lourdes has space for group counseling, family sessions, and has a playroom for children who are grieving. The room allows a lot of natural light to shine down on a small white table where kids can draw.

Marie Halecki is a clinical social worker and bereavement coordinator at Lourdes. She says counseling for adults involves a lot more talking. Art helps kids express things they wouldn’t normally discuss.

“We do a lot of art that has healing involved in it,” Halecki says. “Things that will memorialize their loved one, things they can carry with them.”

The center also has specific counseling for those grieving the loss of a loved one to a drug overdose.

“A lot of it is what people think of the person who died, ‘They brought it on themselves.'” Halecki explains there’s a stigma surrounding overdose. People will often make up a cause of death so they can talk about their grief.

Anyone can seek bereavement counseling from Lourdes at any time, even years after their loved one has passed. The initial services are free.