“I cannot begin to heal until I give in. I cannot understand what is happening until I free my heart from the need to push away the reality. I turn my head and my heart toward my grief. There is something extraordinary in my capacity to survive. I must trust in the struggle.” Alan D. Wolfelt
“Surrendering to my grief means allowing myself to feel. It’s about trusting in my capacity to come out on the other side of my overwhelming hurt. Instead of defending against my pain, I must release myself to the flow of experiencing it.” Alan D. Wolfelt
We understand that the loss of a loved one is perhaps the most difficult experience that we will ever encounter in our lives. When someone close to us dies, we can experience a multitude of feelings, some of which are unexpected. This unsettling time is called grief. It is a normal emotional process, and its effects can last for a long time. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no set pattern to grief. The experience of grief can last for weeks, months or even years. No matter what emotions you are experiencing, it is important for you to acknowledge and feel those feelings. Holding back or pretending that these feelings do not exist is not healthy for us, and it can lead to greater difficulty with our grieving.
You may experience periods of intense feelings like anger, sadness or you may experience a time where you are numb and feel nothing. You may feel depressed and tired, and you may not be interested in doing the things that normally give you pleasure. These are normal grief reactions and they usually pass with time.
Grieving is a painful process, but it doesn’t mark the end of your life. Your life must go on. If you have lost a loved one at the Toronto Grace Health Centre, our chaplains are available if you just need to talk to someone. You can reach us by using any of the methods listed on the ‘Contact A Chaplain’ page of this website.
The Chaplains offer a memorial service to honour those people who have died recently at this Health Centre. You will receive an invitation from the Spiritual Care Department to this service.
Perhaps the one thing that helps grieving people the most is talking about what they are feeling. It is important to talk about it and keep talking about it. This can be done with family, friends, spiritual leaders and counselors. Many people find that the best comfort comes from those who themselves are grieving or who have recently lost a loved one. For that reason, there are many community support groups that you can join. Below is a list of some of the support groups and other resources you might find helpful. For more information about these groups, contact the agency offering the group directly.
The following is a short list of community resources that provide bereavement counseling and support groups:
Bereaved Familes of Ontario (Multi-Faith)
C.O.P.E.S (Community Of People Extending Support)
– Offers bereavement follow-up four times per year for six weeks at a time. No charge to attend.
GENESIS Funeral Homes & Bereavement Resource Centre
Hospice Association of Ontario
– Provides information/referral on bereavement support groups. Available through local hospices.
Palliative Care Information Centre of Toronto
– Information/referral on services and resources for palliative care in Toronto including bereavement support services. Ontario-wide bereavement support services information is also available through linkages to the Ontario Palliative Pain and Symptom Management Network
The Canadian Centre for Bereavement Education
– Provides individual, couple, family and group counseling and bereavement support.
The Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care – Mount Sinai Hospital
– Bereavement Program Access to bereavement support services. Open to everyone.
416-586-4800 Ext. 7884
Reading Resource List
Living with an empty chair (Dr. Roberta Temes)
A look in the mirror (Edward M. Ames)
Coping with death in the family (Dr. Gerald Schneiderman)
Talking about death: A dialogue between parent and child (Earl A. Grollman)
If you would like information on other reading materials please contact a Chaplain.