Federal City Alumnae Focuses on Grief Management During a Pandemic


Submitted by Antoinette Harper

On Thursday, Dec. 19, the Federal City Alumnae Chapter hosted the “Mind Your Health: My Cry in the Dark Grief Management Workshop” via Zoom.  The panel featured three speakers, Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, Dr. LaNail Plummer ED.D and CEO of Onyx Therapy Group and Dr. Sabrina St. Clair, a self-described Faith-Based Bereavement Counselor at Capital Caring Health.

Dr. Mount Varner, an Emergency Room Doctor who also teaches crisis management, started with a public service announcement encouraging everyone to not only get the vaccine, but to wear a mask.  Dr. Mount Varner also stated that 80 percent of COVID-19 cases have been traced to restaurants, bars, hospitals, places of worship and coffee houses.  He also encouraged everyone to take care of their health, including taking vitamins D, Zinc, Melatonin, C, and B complex.  However, he cautioned participants to consult with their medical professional before taking any supplements.

Dr. Mount Varner stated that while Black and Brown people have legitimate concerns and fears about the medical community, he encouraged everyone to take the vaccine. He also spoke about the safety of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID vaccines, stating that the phases of the drug trials were conducted “in tandem” due to the number of scientists and financial backing supporting the efforts. 

Dr. LaNail Plummer, also a member of the Federal City Alumnae Chapter, addressed stress from a clinical perspective.  Dr. Plummer addressed Acute Stress Disorder and Trauma Disorder in a COVID-19 environment.  She stated that the constant news messages about the pandemic can create a “fight or flight response,” which is stress inducing. Dr. Plummer encouraged participants to engage in activities from their childhood, such as coloring, and to utilize journaling for self-expression.

Dr. St. Clair started with a poem, “The Elephant in the Room,” about how many people ignore signs of depression.  According to Dr. St. Clair, anyone experiencing loss during the holiday should have a plan and take time to honor your loved one. “There is no timeline on grieving,” and everyone grieves differently.  Dr. St. Clair suggested talking to someone you trust, or seeking therapy from a professional. 

Dr. St. Clair urged everyone on the call to “support and guide” anyone that they see in need of grief counseling.  Dr. Plummer, added that be sure to support your friend or loved one that is coping with stress and refrain from being “dismissive” or telling them to “pray it away.”

All panelists encouraged self-care, setting boundaries, and taking time to rest. 

The workshop was attended by more than 100 community members including a sorority member from Richmond Alumnae Chapter and participants from Staten Island, NY.  Participants took part in polls and a Q&A session as part of the workshop. 

Overall, participants expressed the need for similar programs to discuss trauma, stress and grief.


Submitted by Antoinette Harper On Thursday, Dec. 19, the Federal City Alumnae Chapter hosted the “Mind Your Health: My Cry in the Dark Grief Management Workshop” via Zoom.  The panel featured three speakers, Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, Dr. LaNail Plummer ED.D and CEO of Onyx Therapy Group and Dr. Sabrina St. Clair, a self-described Faith-Based …

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