Session Three: Rural but Reachable: How to Build Grief Support by Creating Community

Session three

Rural but Reachable: How to Build Grief Support by Creating Community

This session addressed the unique qualities of our rural environments which lend people to create community surrounding the common denominator of grief. Attendees explored the ways in which they can start developing connections in their own communities to support those in grief and individuals experiencing loss. Finally, this session discussed the ways that COVID-19 has changed community and connections in rural settings and discussed ways to support others as grief and loss become a more common experience.

  • Cynthia Drake


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Three-part Series on Rural Social Isolation and Loneliness 

Social isolation and loneliness are complex conditions that can have increased consequences for individuals living in rural and remote communities. The current COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates the challenges faced by providers working in rural communities in identifying and responding to the needs of individuals who may be experiencing increased social isolation and loneliness. This series aims to provide an overview of the topic, and novel ways to support providers in responding to the needs of the individuals they serve.


Session one

Rural Social Isolation and Loneliness: Rates, Importance, and Identifying Risk

July 14, 2020

In this session, participants learned about loneliness and social isolation among older adults in rural and urban areas. Dr. Henning Smith reviewed existing data, what we know, how social isolation and loneliness are unique in rural areas, and how rural social isolation is a health and mortality risk factor. She discussed what has changed as a result of the current health pandemic, how to prepare rural providers to ask questions to determine isolation/loneliness, and what can be done for rural people who are experiencing isolation/loneliness.


Session One Resources



  • Carrie Henning-Smith, PhD, MPH, MSW




Session two

The Evolving Nature of Social Connections: Promoting Well-Being in Times of Crisis

July 22, 2020

This session addressed programs designed to make connections between and among individuals and organizations to promote well-being in the aging population.

  • Social Connect: Mindful Stress Management is a six-session program delivered virtually through a Zoom platform or telephonically. The program was revised during the early stages of the current pandemic to address the concern of increasing isolation among the elderly population. Social Connect draws on mind-body stress management strategies, in particular, Mindfulness-Based Stress Management. The session will provide the overview of the program, conceptual foundation, program elements, and lessons learned from the first pilot offerings.
  • Central Minnesota Council on Aging (CMCOA) is a non-profit organization designated by the Minnesota Board on Aging as the Area Agency on Aging for the 14 county Central Minnesota region. In partnership with public and private organizations, CMCOA helps older adults age successfully by building community capacity, advocating for aging issues, maximizing service effectiveness, and linking people with information. 
  • Chisago Age Well is one of four Silos to Circles communities whose mission is to increase awareness of, access to, and satisfaction with, existing services and health resources in the community. 


Session Two Resources



  • Natalie Matthewson, MA, LPC
  • Rebecca Hostetler
  • Darcy Rylander, BS, RYT, NBC-HWC
  • Steve Hoover, PhD



Additional Resources

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