Skip to content

Mourning the loss of a loved one with help

Living with Loss drop-in program to offer support to bereaved community members
A community member releases a Monrach butterfly at Walk to Remember. Supplied photo

A new community, peer-support drop-in group to help those mourning the loss of a loved one will launch in Guelph this fall.

The Living with Loss Program, run by local Bereaved Families of Ontario-Midwestern Ontario branch and facilitated by volunteers who are themselves bereaved, is a monthly program for adults who are grieving the death of a loved one.

“The peer aspect of the Living with Loss program creates opportunities to be in a room with people who understand and empathize with what they are dealing with. There is power in being among a community who has been there and gets it,” said Jaime Bickerton, the local BFO branch Executive Director.

“Members share stories, experiences and coping strategies, all which help normalize the grief experience and encourages understanding that the bereaved are not alone along this journey,” she added.

When a loved one dies, people typically experience feelings of grief, loneliness and isolation, which can be overwhelming, said a press release. The group was created to help support community members during a profoundly difficult time in their lives; it also runs programs in Kitchener, Cambridge and Mount Forest.

The Living with Loss Program counsels adults who have experienced the death of a loved one, be it a spouse, sibling, child, friend, co-worker or anyone meaningful in their lives.

“Members come to us at various points in their journey as well – for some, the death is recent, for others it’s been years and they are now at a point in their journey where they are ready to access support,” said Bickerton.

“Because of the drop-in nature of the program, we may see members attend for three to six months; others continue to attend for a year or more. Living with Loss becomes a community of support for people who are grieving. Connections and friendships form and that support network continues outside the walls of the group.”

Each month's meet-up runs on a specific topic and is guided by facilitators that address questions, encourage discussion and run activities specific to the particular theme. The programs are facilitated by two or more bereaved volunteers who have completed a 20-hour facilitator training program.

Hospice Wellington and GriefWalk already offer similar programs within the community and Bickerton said that Bereaved Families Ontario looks forward to complementing the great work they do by providing another support option.

“Just as every grief experience is different, what support option people choose to access also differs,” said Bickerton. “We have received positive feedback from the many organizations we have connected with regarding the launch, and feel privileged to be able to provide support in this community.”

The Guelph group is offered free of charge. It will hold its first drop-in program on Sept. 6 and runs the first Wednesday of every month at the Gilbert MacIntyre and Sons Funeral Home at 1099 Gordon St. Registration is not required and people are welcome to attend as often as they’d like. 

For a complete list of dates and monthly topics, visit