‘Take a deep breath,’ ‘figure out how to grieve’: Virtual health & wellness with your library

As this uncertain and difficult year goes on, we know our community’s need for health and wellness support is only increasing.

Library programs focused on health and wellness—Midday Meditation, Grief Journaling, and more—offer opportunities for community members to carve out time and space for their mental and physical health. “Since March, much of our programming has transitioned to virtual,” says Health & Wellness Librarian Juanita Harrell. “Being able to continue meeting virtually during the pandemic has been amazing.”

All programs are held virtually through the Zoom platform, and you can see all upcoming dates on the library’s calendar. Find dates and details below, as well as more health and wellness resources from your library.

Midday Meditation: ‘A moment to literally take a deep breath’

First Thursdays, 12-12:30 pm.

The Midday Meditation series is led by instructor and practitioner Betsy Grimm

“These sessions have been a welcome break for everyone,” Harrell says. “Participants are able to take a moment to literally take a deep breath and relax.”

Memory Cafe: ‘So happy to see each other’

Third Tuesdays, 2-3 pm.

Designed for individuals living with memory loss and their care partners to have a safe space in the community to connect, Memory Cafe is a partnership of Oak Park Township Senior Services, River Forest Public Library, and Oak Park Public Library.

Harrell says participants have been “so happy to see each other,” and the virtual sessions have provided those with memory loss and their caregivers the opportunity to keep connecting, talking, and even singing together, safely.

Death Cafe: ‘A conversation about living’

Bimonthly on Sundays, 2-3:30 pm.

“Often, people do not talk about death until faced with the tragedy,” says palliative care social work student and group facilitator Katie Tyrrell Weimann. “At the Oak Park Death Cafe, we bring attention to the impermanent nature of life and remember the sacredness of each breath.”

Death Cafe is a discussion group, rather than a grief support or counseling session. Since 2011, Death Cafes have spread around the world.

“Some people come to listen and others share personal stories,” Weimann says. “It can be a call to action or a discussion about the mystery of life. The conversation about death and dying is a conversation about living.” 

Grief Journaling: ‘An outlet to help figure out how to grieve’

Last Sundays, 2-4 pm.

“The Grief Journaling Workshop has been a help to people who have lost loved ones during this pandemic,” Harrell says. “It’s given them an outlet to help figure out how to grieve during this time.”

Harrell is a co-leader of the Grief Journaling Workshop series, along with Death Cafe facilitator Katie Tyrrell Weimann and Neighborhood Services Supervisor Jeanine Vaughn.

“You don’t have to be a writer to journal,” Vaughn says. One of the beautiful things, she adds, is that “even if you’re not experiencing the same thing, you can still relate” to what others are sharing.

Books, videos & more with your library card


Contact our Social Services team

The library’s Social Services and Public Safety team can refer people to local and virtual resources, including COVID-19 crisis resources and information about virtual mental health assessments.

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