I came across an article in the Huffington Post British Columbia that described a weekly Bereavement Walking Program in Vancouver (found at www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/11/12/vancouver-hospice-society_n_4263859.html?utm_hp_ref=tw). This is an informal support system for people who have recently lost a loved one and are looking to connect with others who share similar experiences of grief. The program is incredibly valuable because participants are able to share empathy, strategies for coping, and stories of resilience. These groups provide a safe place to feel vulnerable, among people who have been in your shoes.
The article inspired me to investigate informal bereavement groups in Calgary, and I came across a handful:
Alive Alone (www.arrivealone.org)
Contact: Kathy Cloutier
- This is a support group for bereaved parents who no longer have living children. The group meets through McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes.
Hospice Calgary Sage Center (www.hospicecalgary.com/page/support-groups)
Contact: Joy Clark
- Hospice Calgary offers support groups for children, youth, and families who have lost a loved one. They offer multi-week support programs, and monthly mentoring sessions.
Journey Through Loss of a Young Child
- This is a group for bereaved mothers who have lost a young child. This groups meets informally at the Second Cup on 17th Avenue (2803 – 17th Avenue SW)
The Compassionate Friends of Canada (www.tcfcanada.net)
- This is a non-profit, non-denominational support group for individuals and families who have lost child.
- This chapter meets the 3rd Monday of every month at 7:30pm (no meetings in December), at the First Evangelical Free Church (55th Avenue & Elbow Drive SW). Other Alberta chapters of The Compassionate Friends can be found on their website.
Together Forever: A Parent-to-Parent Support Group
Contact: Michelle Agopsowicz
- This is a monthly support group hosted by the Rotary Flames House for parents who have lost a child. Often there is a youth component for bereaved siblings.
Bowmont Seniors’ Assistance Association (www.bowmontseniors.org/)
- This organization exists primarily to enable senior citizens to live with dignity and respect within the community. They also provide bereavement support. (Located at 5000 Bowness Road NW)
Grief Share at the First Alliance Church (www.faccalgary.com)
403-252-7572 (to inquire and register)
- Twice a year, the church offers a no-cost 13-week bereavement program on Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. The church is located at 12345 – 40 Street SE.
Alberta Health Services: Calgary Grief Support Services (www.albertahealthservices.ca/4072.asp)
403-955-8011 (to inquire or register)
- A structured, 6-week grief support program offered at the Richmond Road Diagnostic & Treatment Centre location (3rd Floor – 18 20 Richmond Road, SW). Each week, a new topic is addressed. Registration is required.
- Most groups are between 10-20 participants, and are organized by “types” of loss:
- o Loss of Spouse, mature- usually over 55
- o Loss of Spouse, younger usually under 55
- o Loss of Child, any age
- o Loss of Parent
- o Loss of Sibling
Online support resources:
Widow Net (www.widownet.org)
- An online information and self-help resources for widows and widowers.
Web Healing (www.webhealing.com)
- A safe place for people to discuss issues related to grief and healing.
Online Grief Support: A Social Community (www.onlinegriefsupport.com)
- A website for people to share their grief experiences, blog about topics related to death and bereavement, and chat with others.
Daily Strength (www.dailystrength.org/c/Bereavement/support-group)
- Bereavement forums, for people to create their own discussion threads and reply to others.
The Cancer Support Community (www.cancersupportcommunity.org/MainMenu/Cancer-Support/Online-Support-Groups.html)
- “The Living Room” is a 24/7 online Cancer Support Community that has informal chat, as well as groups led by licensed mental health professionals.
- Once you sign up for one of these groups, these real-time meetings occur online in a chat room for 90 minutes each week.
- Discussion forums for people to discuss life-limiting illness, caring, loss, and grief.
Is Is your bereavement group missing from the list? Share it with us in the comments section into enrich the healing capacity of our community.
Note: Some of the bereavement groups that have been included above address the loss of a child – Aspen Care services are targeted towards people 18+, however we are passionate about helping and connecting as many Calgarians as possible.
Sending you warm wishes,