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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What services and supports are you currently offering?
    Our physical office location remains closed at this time for most supports and services. Our program staff is available daily from 9 am to 5 pm to provide support for members remotely. For immediate emergency help, please contact 911. At our organization, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive, trauma-informed grief support to meet the diverse needs of our communities. Here’s a look at the grief supports we currently offer: One-to-One Peer Support Sessions: We offer up to 8 free, 30-minute sessions for adults (ages 18+) and up to 12 free, 30-minute sessions for teens, children, and adolescents (ages 6-17). These sessions can be conducted over the phone or via Zoom, with Zoom recommended for younger children (ages 6-13) to ensure a more engaging and comfortable experience. Group Peer Support Sessions: Our group peer support sessions are a cornerstone of our support services. Please refer to our Adult Group Programs page for detailed information. We offer free ongoing weekly support groups and closed support groups throughout the year to foster a sense of community and shared healing. Most of our groups currently run via Zoom. We occasionally offer in-person support groups throughout the year at our main office location in Mississauga. These groups are offered based on demand, need, and availability of facilitators. Events: We host two major annual events to honour, remember, and celebrate our loved ones. Our "Walk to Remember" fundraising event and the "Loving Memory Ceremony" are opportunities for communal support and remembrance. Subscribe to our newsletter or check our Events tab for updates and details. Educational Webinars: Throughout the year, we provide various 1-hour webinars featuring guest speakers. These webinars cover a range of grief-related topics. For example, past topics such as Sleep and Grief, Complicated Relationships, and Navigating Suicide Loss were covered. Our goal is to amplify voices, spread awareness, and support you in your healing journey. Professional Workshops: Our "Navigating Through Grief" workshops are designed for professionals, schools, businesses, and organizations. These workshops offer practical tips and tools to support oneself and others in grief, with varying costs and topics tailored to different needs. Through these diverse support options, we strive to offer the compassion, understanding, and resources you need during your time of grief. If you would like to register for an individual phone support session or for a group support session, please see the rest of our FAQ and/or Online Intake Form. As of June, 2024.
  • How much do you charge for your services?
    The Centre for Grief and Healing is a not-for-profit organization. All services provided and programs attended are free of charge, with the exception of ticketed events and our Navigating Through Grief workshop. All donations (monetary and in-kind) are greatly appreciated and are tax-deductible ($20.00 minimum for receipt). We operate thanks to the generous donations of corporations, community groups, academic institutes, funders and donors like you!
  • Do you provide counselling, therapy, or crisis services?
    The Centre for Grief and Healing utilizes a peer support model. Our groups and one-to-ones are facilitated by adults who guide, listen and support each person while they express their thoughts, feelings and fears to help provide a new sense of normal and understanding. None of the services provided by the Centre for Grief and Healing are counseling, therapy, or crisis sessions.
  • What is a "Peer Support" model?
    Click our Peer Support Self Assessment to see if peer support is the right fit for you! Peer support is the help and support that is given to you by someone like you - we are the bereaved helping the bereaved. Our staff and volunteers are all trained grief facilitators with different educational backgrounds. We are not counsellors or therapists; we are people like you who have experienced a death in our family/friend circle and have undergone a similar journey of learning to cope and live with our grief. We are survivors of our grief - we can provide you with experiential knowledge, educational information and support that was and is gained through our lived experience of being similarly bereaved. Self-disclosure is to be expected from the peer support worker and facilitators own experiences. Our peer support provides hope, acceptance, real understanding, empathy, and freedom to express ideas. Peer supporters help to maintain and strengthen the continuing bond with your loved one as repeated conversations about them are allowed and encouraged. They provide information and share strategies to normalize grief experiences and give guidance (ex. how to cope with special days). Peer support is a great aid to clinical support such as therapy and/or counseling. Clinical services such as counseling and/or therapy involves little to no self-disclosure from the helper; rather, they draw from objective knowledge. They support individuals and families who may have pre-existing challenges in social functioning or other areas (ex. marriage and relationship support, navigating family dynamics, trauma, domestic violence, mental health challenges, etc.). Additionally, they support those who have developed serious difficulties in their grief (ex. risk of suicide, homicide, prolonged effects on one's health, mental health, sleep, etc.). These helpers focus on the person's background, their history, family, belief systems, and so on. Please visit psychologytoday.com if you find clinical support is more suitable for you.
  • I don't live in Halton or Peel region. Can I still utilize your services?
    Our organization does not deny the bereaved community from receiving our services and supports, unless otherwise noted (e.g., age limits). We are here to support you! However, due to our increased demands and limited resources, we provide earlier dates and times for those that do reside within our catchment areas (Halton/Peel) and wish to receive one-to-one/individual peer support sessions. If you are only interested in attending our support groups, we are able to provide earlier dates and times for your mandatory group information session as no sequential individual support sessions are provided. We highly encourage you to first seek support from one of our affiliates should they fall within your city/region. You can find the list of our affiliates here: https://bereavedfamilies.net/affiliates/. You can also find grief supports near you by filtering your region at this website: https://www.thehealthline.ca/ and searching "Grief and Bereavement Support". https://211ontario.ca/ is a 24/7 resource hotspot that provides real-time resources you are looking for within your area.
  • What steps do I need to take before accessing any of your supports?
    Please also visit our 'Individual Peer Support Sessions' page under the 'SUPPORT' tab for more information or click 'Individual Supports' in this FAQ page. STEP 1: Intake Process Every person is required to complete a brief intake prior to accessing our supports. The intake process takes a minimum of 15 minutes to complete. During a phone intake, we will ask you for basic information such as your: Name, Date of Birth, Address, Phone Number, and Email. Afterward, we will ask you about the loved one you have lost. We will ask you for their: Name, Date of Birth and Death, Relationship with You, and How They Passed Away. These same questions can be found on our Online Intake Form, which can be completed and received more quickly. There are 2 ways to complete an intake with us. After completing an intake with us over the phone (also includes completing our Informed Consent Form), we will book your initial appointment to chat about our supports further with a Peer Support Worker or our Intake Worker, during our operating hours. If you submitted your intake online to us, we will email you (within 10 business days) 2 tentative dates and times to choose from for your initial appointment. This is also to chat about our supports further with a Peer Support Worker or our Intake Worker, during our operating hours. STEP 1&2: Completing an Informed Consent Form As part of the intake process to access any of our supports, we require all members to complete an Informed Consent Form. This form is mandatory and must be completed as part of our intake process. All of our forms are fillable online/via computer or device, making it easier for you to complete them electronically. If you encounter any difficulties filling out the Informed Consent Form electronically, we offer an alternative option. You can print the form, complete it by hand, and then conveniently take a photo or scan it before sending it to us via email. If you feel comfortable doing so, we also recommend having someone help you to print and scan the forms or fill them in online if you have any additional difficulties. If it is still difficult to fill in any of our forms by yourself, don't worry - we're here to help. We can support you over the phone and complete the forms with you. We understand that filling out forms can be a hassle, however, these forms are an important part of our process to ensure that we provide you with the best possible support. Thank you for taking the time to complete them. If you have any questions or concerns about any of our forms, please don't hesitate to contact us. STEP 3: Scheduling Your Initial Appointment Your initial appointment will be an introductory session to the organization and what we offer. The type of initial session you have with us depends on what type of support(s) you requested during your intake. We have 2 types of initial sessions: Individual Support/One-to-One Initial Session: this session is intended for individuals who are solely interested in our individual supports. In this session, you will be introduced to your peer support worker. They will also share what our individual support sessions entail, and what you can expect from them. This is an opportunity to get to know one another and ask any questions you may have about the supports we offer. This session is the first session of 8 or 12 available (depending on your age). Group Support Information Session: this session is intended for individuals who are interested in joining our groups but don't need or want individual/one-to-one support. This type of initial session will be a one-time, brief "group information session". We will provide information about our grief peer support groups specifically, including how to get started and register for them. No sequential one-to-one support sessions are provided if you showed interest in our group supports solely. NOTE: Members have the option of choosing session-limited one-to-one support or ongoing/unlimited access to group support sessions. After completing one option, members can decide if they would like to access the other. Please note that as a charity with limited resources, we strive to provide the best support possible within our capacity. STEP 4: Attend Your Initial Appointment We're looking forward to meeting you in your initial appointment, which will be held over the phone (Zoom sessions may be available upon request). For children, the initial appointment may be held over Zoom (phone sessions are available, however, Zoom sessions are encouraged for those ages 6-13). A Peer Support Worker or Intake Worker will phone you/join the call during the date and time booked for your initial appointment. A quick reminder to please try your best to join the call on time. If you're running late, no worries - just let us know as soon as possible (email notice is preferred). However, members who are 10 or more minutes late may have their session canceled and rescheduled. If you need more information on this, you can find our appointment policy in our Informed Consent Form. After you attend your initial appointment, depending on the type of support(s) you're seeking, we'll schedule your next individual support session and/or help you register for your first group session. We look forward to supporting you in any way we can. If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at info@bereavedfamilies.ca. We're here for you! Additional Information All incoming members must have a group information session prior to attending their first group session (see the rest of our FAQs for more information). After this session, you are welcome to register for group/s (unlimited use). We do our best to contact you within 10 business days to complete the intake process and/or to schedule your initial appointment with us. Please ensure you check your Junk/Spam folders as our initial email to members is often sent there.
  • Do I have to have a group information session before accessing my first support group? What does it entail?
    Yes. As a part of our policy, all incoming participants who are interested in attending our support groups must have a group information session with a Peer Support Worker or Intake Worker prior to attending one's first group. For those only interested in attending our support groups, this session will be a brief, 30-minute group information session and no sequential one-to-one sessions are provided. We will provide you with information about our support groups, what to expect from them, and how to register for future ones.
  • How come you ask for my demographic information during my intake?
    Providing your demographic information (e.g., your gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnic identity, etc.) is entirely optional. We will only ask for this information in our online intake form, and will never ask during phone/verbal intakes. We began collecting this information in 2020 to help us serve our community better by identifying gaps and areas of need, and to ensure we support you in the best way possible. Grief is often highly stigmatized and much of its discourse is based on Western ideologies and whiteness. We strive to dismantle the common discourse around grief and loss to promote more inclusive, culturally informed, and equitable grief supports and resources. The demographic information supports us to inform and continue our anti-oppressive work, to be a more inclusive and equitable organization, to support marginalized voices throughout their grief journey, to advocate, and to apply for funding to run related programming. An example of how this information has supported us to support our community better was recognizing a high number of South Asian members, in which we obtained funding for and thus created and opened a South Asian Grief Support Group. Another example is noticing we did not have 2SLGBTQ+ specific supports for our identifying members, in which we then offered a workshop and soon-to-be support group with and for this community. These are only some of the many ways demographic information has supported us in being better for you. Only the Centre for Grief and Healing will have access to this information. All responses are kept private and secure, and will never be used for a discriminatory purpose. You can always change your information in the future by emailing us at info@bereavedfamilies.ca or by phoning Intakes at 905-848-4337. If you have additional questions around demographic information and its purpose, please reach out to us at programs@bereavedfamilies.ca or by phoning our Program Manager at 905-848-4337.
  • Do you have wait times for your services?
    Our individual support sessions and group sessions are free thanks to the donations received from our community. Since 2020, our organization has experienced fewer resources and has seen an increased demand of 470% for our individual support sessions. These sessions are facilitated by a staff member, a volunteer, or a placement student. You may expect a 2-4 week waiting period for these sessions. We deeply appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this. Should you require immediate support, please click here for a list of crisis and immediate phone support lines. For those wanting to attend our peer support groups, you may expect a wait time less than 2-4 weeks for your group information session as there are no additional one-to-one support sessions provided. Only one group information session is mandatory to have prior to attending our groups (see FAQ) which can last up to 30 minutes. Our support groups are capped at 10 participants total to ensure everyone has an opportunity to share. Our group session spots sometimes fill fast so we recommend registering as early as possible. Registration opens Mondays at 9:00am and remains open until the day of the group at 4:00pm for virtual support groups. We do not accept registrations earlier than this and you must register for every group session you are interested in attending by following the above. There are no wait times for our support groups unless they reach full capacity.
  • Do you have age restrictions for your services?
    You must be 18+ to attend all current open groups (Parent & Guardian Loss, Partner Loss, and Mixed Loss groups). We do not currently offer a support group for those below the age of 18. We provide individual support sessions (one-to-ones) for ages 6 and up.
  • Does my loss need to be recent to receive support?
    We all grieve differently. We recognize that grief can hit us at different stages in our lives no matter the amount of time that has passed since the loss. Please join us when you are ready, whether it's soon after your loss, months later, or years later. Please keep in mind that we do not provide clinical services such as counseling and/or therapy. If you have and/or are experiencing pre-existing challenges in social functioning or other areas (ex. marriage and relationship support, navigating family dynamics, trauma, domestic violence, mental health challenges, etc.) or, have developed serious difficulties in your grief (ex. risk of suicide, homicide, prolonged effects on one's health, mental health, sleep, eating habits, mental health challenges, etc.). then clinical support is encouraged. Please visit psychologytoday.com if you find clinical support is more suitable for you.
  • What is the difference between Open and Closed support groups?
    Open Groups: Our open groups are our ongoing groups that occur on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, throughout the year (e.g., Mixed Loss, Child Loss, Parent and Guardian Loss, and Partner Loss). Open groups require registration during the week the group of interest runs for virtual groups (registration opens Mondays at 9:00am and stays open until 4:00pm the day of the group). Our current in-person support group accepts registrations as early as 9:00am Mondays during the week before the group runs until the Friday by 4:00pm. One registration does not apply to the rest of the groups; you must register for the group of interest every week/bi-weekly (visit 'Adult Group Programs' to see how often the group of interest runs). New and existing members can continue to join these groups for as long as they'd like and occasionally there will be different group facilitators. All members must have had a group information session prior to joining their first group. Closed Groups: Our closed groups are not ongoing; they have a set number of weeks the group will run for (e.g., 6-weeks, 8-weeks, 12-weeks). These groups are more specific to a population and/or to a specific type of loss (e.g., COVID-19 Loss, Suicide Loss, Overdose Loss, Newcomer Groups, Senior Groups). Closed groups do not require ongoing registration during the week the group runs. Participants register one time and this registration applies to each week of the group. New members do not join this group after the first two sessions, and no new facilitators will join. This group has the same participants and same facilitators throughout each week. With this said, weekly attendance is expected from both participants and facilitators. Closed groups are most effective when the same participants and facilitators attend each session to contribute to and engage through the emotional support offered within the group. This dynamic helps build rapport and trust within the group and can sometimes lead to lasting friendships! All members must have had an individual peer support session or group information session prior to joining the first group. Additional Closed Group Details: Participants who miss the first 2 sessions are removed from the group so that others can be invited to join. Participants are asked to report anticipated absences to info@bereavedfamilies.ca. We understand emergencies can arise and may prevent someone from attending a group. If this happens, we ask that you inform us ahead of time (if possible) that you are unable to attend a group session. Members who miss more than two consecutive groups without notifying us are removed from the group. *The types of Closed Groups vary throughout the year and are based on grant approvals, and/or community requests and/or gaps.
  • What can I expect in a group?
    All open and closed groups are run by trained group facilitators that have also experienced the loss of a loved one and/or have closely supported a bereaved person. Our facilitators provide individuals with the opportunity to learn, share, and engage in conversation that will help reflect upon and work through their grief. Due to our increased service demands and limited resources, most of our groups are being run through Zoom. Upon arrival, participants are welcomed into a calm and relaxing space (check-in required) and may be seated in the meeting circle (for in-person groups). During virtual groups, we encourage you to find a safe, quiet and confidential space where you feel you can freely share and be your authentic self. Prior to beginning the session, we do a modified, seated stretch and/or a light breathing exercise to calm the mind and body*. *Facilitators and participants are not required to participate and may pass if they wish to do so. Following, we will do a brief check-in to see how everyone has been doing leading up to the session while introducing ourselves. Depending on the week's topic, our facilitators will pose a discussion question/topic to the group around Coping Strategies, Holidays/Events, Grief Timelines, Other Life Changes and more. This leads to an opportunity to connect with others that have experienced similar challenges and feel empowered knowing that they are not alone. Topics can be found in our Adult Group Programs tab and are shared when registering for a group session. After a group discussion, facilitators will conduct a brief grounding exercise and pose a check out question.
  • Do I have to register for a support group if I want to attend?
    Yes. We require all members (who have had a group information session) to email us the Monday during the week the group runs in order to register and attend any group that week (you may email any other day during the same week; however, spots are limited and fill fast). You may register as early as Monday at 9:00am up until the day of the group by 4:00pm latest. This only applies for our open, virtual support groups. For example, if we have a support group running on a Wednesday evening, you can register as early as the Monday that week (9:00am) and as late as 4:00pm on the same day of the group (Wednesday). We do not accept registrations earlier than the above days/times and you must register for every group session you are interested in attending by following the above. For our closed groups, registration is required only once as we understand you are committed to attending each week the group runs (either 6 weeks, 8 weeks, or 12 weeks total). For more information about our groups please visit our Programs tab.
  • Do you limit the amount of participants in group?
    Yes. We cap all of our groups at 10 participants total. We limit the amount of participants in group to be mindful of the amount of time available for each individual to share and be heard. We want to ensure that everyone who wants to share has the opportunity to do so.
  • I'm running late! Can I still come to group?
    We ask for all registered participants to arrive on time. This is to be respectful and mindful of the other participants who may be sharing/disclosing difficult information with the other group members. If you are aware that there is a chance you may be late, please email us at info@bereavedfamilies.ca. It is important to note that after group has started, the main office door will be locked 20 minutes from the group's start time (in-person). For virtual groups, you will not be admitted into the group if you arrive 20+ minutes late.
  • I am unable to make it to a group I registered for. What do I do?
    If you are aware you cannot attend a group you registered for, please call or e-mail us at: 905-848-4337 or info@bereavedfamilies.ca as soon as possible. This is so we have an understanding of how many participants there will be in group and/or we may provide your spot to another participant wanting to attend group.
  • What does a one-to-one session aka individual support session entail?
    A one-to-one session, also known as an individual support session, is a type of peer support service that provides one-on-one conversations between a Peer Support Worker and a person seeking support. Our sessions are designed to provide peer support to individuals who are grieving the loss of a loved one, and are looking for guidance, understanding, and empathy from someone who has gone through similar experiences. Our grief peer support sessions are not intended to be counseling, therapy, or crisis support. Instead, they are a space where you can talk about your grief with someone who understands what you're going through. If you're aged 18 and above, you can book 8, 30-minute sessions, and if you're aged 6-17, you can book 12, 30-minute sessions. Please note that we do not offer individual support for children below the age of 6. It's also worth mentioning that our individual support sessions are different from our individual group information session. Our group information session is a one-time session where we provide information about our grief peer support groups, including how to get started and register for them. This session is intended for individuals who are interested in joining our groups but don't need or want individual support sessions. If you're only interested in groups, we hold one individual group information session, and no sequential individual supports are provided. Members have the option of choosing session-limited one-to-one support or ongoing/unlimited access to group support sessions. After completing one option, members can decide if they would like to access the other. Please note that as a charity with limited resources, we strive to provide the best support possible within our capacity.
  • Who will be supporting me in my individual support sessions?
    One of the essential things to note about our grief peer support sessions is that they are peer support based. Our Peer Support Workers have experienced grief themselves and have completed training to provide support and guidance to others who are grieving. When you meet with your supporter, you can expect them to share their own experiences with you to create a more comfortable and trusting environment. If you are uncomfortable with this type of self-disclosure, we encourage you to seek counseling or therapy as the peer support process involves ongoing self-disclosure from the supporter. Depending on availability, your session may be held with a staff member, a volunteer, or a student. In our peer support sessions, we do not hierarchialize loss. We understand that every loss is unique and that everyone experiences grief differently. Our supporters are trained to provide empathetic and compassionate support to all members, regardless of the type of loss they have experienced. While we cannot guarantee that we will pair you with a supporter who has experienced the same type of loss or grief as you have, we will do our best to always find someone who is empathetic, compassionate, and able to provide the support you need. Our goal is to create a brave and supportive space for individuals to talk about their grief and connect with others who understand what they're going through.
  • Someone in our school/workplace died. Do you provide support for this?
    We provide support groups and/or educational workshops onsite for students and staff members coping with a loss and for those who are unsure of how to better support themselves and those around them. Please see our Workshop tab under 'SUPPORT' for more information.
  • Do you provide support for a pet loss?
    Unfortunately, we do not provide support solely for those who have lost a pet. If you are in need of a Pet Loss support group, you may contact "Ontario Pet Loss Support Group" at: 905-272-4040 (Mississauga), 905-842-2252 (Oakville) and/or 416-782-1197 (Toronto).
  • Do you provide support for anticipatory loss?
    Unfortunately, we do not provide support for anticipatory loss. Our supports are designed to provide peer support to individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one. However, we recognize that anticipatory grief can be a significant and challenging experience for many people, and we encourage you to seek out support from other resources in your community. If you're unsure where to turn for support, we may be able to provide you with local resources (Halton/Peel regions specifically) that could be helpful.
  • How do you ensure that your programs are inclusive and respectful of diverse communities?
    We prioritize incorporating an equity lens into our program design and engagement with equity-seeking groups. Our approach involves needs assessments to understand specific challenges and needs, while fostering diverse representation in decision-making processes. We offer culturally sensitive materials, identify and address systemic barriers, and tailor services to meet the unique preferences of equity-seeking communities. Collaborating directly with these communities, we co-create programs, ensuring that trauma-informed practices, accessible spaces, and fair resource allocation are integral components. Our commitment to continuous learning equips our staff with the tools to challenge biases and promote inclusivity. Through ongoing evaluation and anti-oppression frameworks, we strive to dismantle inequalities, nurturing a leadership landscape that reflects the communities we serve. By adopting this approach, we aim to create programs that resonate with, empower, and uplift underrepresented voices.
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