How to get grief support in Ontario
Grief is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It is a difficult but inevitable part of life. However, there are plenty of resources to help support and manage that grief so that it does not take over life. They are listed below with notes on whether they can be found locally in Ontario and used by residents only or available online to a wider Canadian audience.
What is grief?
Before listing some of these resources, it is important to have an understanding of what grief is. Although grief is a common emotion, it is often hard to provide a definition because it is something that everyone experiences differently.
Grief is often associated with the death of a loved one. However, that is not the only form of grief in life. More broadly, it is a response to a loss, an end, or a change in what is familiar. For example, grief can be present at the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, the onset of poor health, and other loss experiences.
Grief can also be experienced in physical, spiritual, social, cultural, behavioural, and cognitive contexts. Learn more about the types of grief here.
Grief support and aftercare
Grief support can include a variety of services and resources that help support those experiencing grief. This includes counselling, therapy, educational programs, support groups, and remembrance programs. These resources are designed to help people work through the grieving process and adjust and transition to life after a loss.
In a funeral setting, grief support is an integral part of what is called “aftercare”. Aftercare refers to services offered or made available to the family and friends of the deceased after a funeral is over. Grief support is one of the most important features of aftercare because most families need support.
When it comes to managing grief, it can be difficult to know where to start. Providing these resources to families can help get them on the healing process and acceptance—this holds true outside of a funeral setting. Any grief can turn someone’s world upside down. Grief support can help make the grieving process more manageable, help grievers fight feelings of helplessness, and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Your funeral services provider, like Eirene Cremations, can be a good place to start when looking for grief support resources. As such, we will start with a list of Ontario-specific resources. Below the Ontario section you will see services that are online and accessible to anyone.
Grief Support Services in Ontario
There are plenty of local Ontario-based grief support services available to the province’s residents.
Bereaved Families of Ontario
This is a province-wide organization dedicated to supporting families experiencing grief through self-help and mutual aid. It is volunteer-run and offers individual and group support programs free of charge. There are 11 affiliate locations located throughout Ontario. Learn more here.
Bereavement Ontario Network
This is a group of professional and volunteer organizations and individuals from around the province that work in the field of grief, bereavement, and mourning. The organization does not provide direct services. Instead, it serves as a connection point for various groups, counselors, and bereavement resources that can give you access to support across the province. Learn more here.
Open to Hope
Open to Hope is a non-profit foundation that helps people find hope after loss. The website provides a space to share stories of loss and love through outlets such as articles, books, television shows, and podcasts. Learn more here.
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Network
The Pregnancy & Infant Loss Network (PAIL Network) is an organization that offers support services free of charge to parents and families across Ontario that have experienced pregnancy and infant loss. Learn more here.
In addition to offering hospice care, Hospice Toronto also offers a bereavement support program. It is a volunteer-run service that provides one-on-one support via phone, in person, or online that is designed to help grieving families. Learn more here.
Lighthouse Centre for Grieving Children
This Oakville, Ontario based organization offers support to children, teens, and their parents or guardians as they navigate grief and loss. In addition, it provides a safe space for grieving children to share their experiences with others experiencing the same thing. It does this through peer-support programs, virtual grief support groups, educational workshops, and more. Learn more here.
My Grief is a resource that offers free online grief support for adults. It provides a space to communicate with others who experience grief through the Canadian Hospice Portal and also links to programs and services that can be found across the country. Learn more here.
Kids Grief is a resource offering online grief support for adults caring for children and youth experiencing grief. It provides helpful articles and videos to help parents support their grieving children and links to programs and services across the country. Learn more here.
Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP)
GRASP is a community organization that offers support via group meetings to families or individuals dealing with grief caused by death related to a loved one’s substance misuse or addiction. Learn more here.
Soaring Spirits International
Soaring Spirits is an organization that offers community support to widowed men and women across North America, with a few locations across Ontario. It does so through programs, packets, group meetings, online forums, and more. Learn more here.
Rajesh Family and Child Services
Rajesh is a community organization in Toronto, Ontario that offers many services to children and families, including a Child and Adolescent Therapy Program to help children ages 3-16 cope with grief, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and more. Learn more here.
Compassionate Friends of Canada
This is an international, non-profit, peer support organization that offers support to those experiencing grief to the loss of a child through articles, newsletters, posts, and community meetings. Learn more here.
Hope House Community Hospice
Hope House Community Hospice (HHCH) is a charitable, non-profit organization in Richmond Hill, Ontario that offers grief and bereavement programs via Zoom and hospice care in the area. Learn more here.
Shoulder to Shoulder
Shoulder to Shoulder is a network that provides resources to military families that have experienced the death of a loved one in the Canadian Armed Forces. It offers support and information for all Canadian families of fallen soldiers through groups, helplines, peer and professional help, and more. Learn more here.
Online grief support
The following online resources may be useful to you whether you are located in Ontario, outside Ontario or beyond Canadian borders.
These online or virtual support groups and forums offer a space for people to share their grief stories and experiences with people across the world. They can help people find comfort with others experiencing the same or similar types of loss.
Additional grief resources
The organizations mentioned above are some of the many grief support resources that may be available in your community. You can find more support resources on some of the websites mentioned above, online, or by contacting your local funeral services provider for assistance. If you have a specific need and would like to contact the team at Eirene, you can contact us.