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Helping You Cope: Grief Support Services and Resources
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Often, grief is a delayed reaction. When a loved one dies, we keep busy preparing for the funeral service. Friends and family rally around to give us support and comfort. Executor duties or other financial tasks may also occupy our time.
When a death occurs, this type of busy work helps many of us cope, notes Margret Burnside, Aftercare Lifestyle Coordinator at Kelly Funeral Homes in Ottawa. “But eventually you will have to deal with the grief – you can’t avoid it.”
A first step might be to read some self-help books. One well-known author is Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a grief educator who offers books and other resources for adults, children and teens, and bereavement caregivers. His works are readily accessible via online booksellers and libraries. Some funeral homes, like Kelly, even offer in-house bereavement libraries.
Emotionally, it may help you to talk to others in a similar situation. Your funeral home can help you find a grief support group – and some even host these group meetings. Support groups provide a safe place to talk, share, encourage and relate experiences. In the warmer months, “walk and talk” groups offer the additional benefits of exercise and being outdoors, two known stress relievers.
Support groups are also available for specific needs. In Ottawa, a widowers’ group formed to allow men to discuss their issues with grief and intimacy in a comfortable environment. Valley View Funeral Home & Cemetery in Surrey, BC, offers a one-day workshop for siblings mourning a brother or sister notes Marlyn Ferguson, Arbor Care Coordinator, along with homicide and suicide support groups. One recent participant told her that “this is the safest place for me to be.”
Group members “start out as strangers and then become friends,” notes Ferguson. “We do a follow up pot luck dinner for group members every few months.” Similarly, “Among Friends” is a dinner series organized by group members at Kelly Funeral Homes.
If you do not want to join a group, consider one-on-one bereavement counselling. A trained therapist can help you understand your feelings of sadness and depression, and find ways to manage your emotions. Your funeral home can refer you to a counsellor in your area.
There is no correct way to grieve, or timetable for getting over the pain. But often, a little support can help you begin to heal.