Grief & Bereavement Services

Hospice can play a positive role in helping people to understand the process of grieving. Hospice staff and volunteers understand that everyone grieves differently and provide tools for acknowledging and remembering both the life and the death of a loved one.

Bereavement is the loss of someone or something to which a person has an emotional attachment. Grief is the emotional response to the loss. Grief does not respect age and recognizing this, Hospice Georgina offers grief support and education for children, adults, and families who live in Georgina. Support in the home or at school is also available.

Hospice Georgina’s grief services are funded by United Way Toronto and York Region. There is no cost to clients for our programs. Grief services include anticipatory grief support for palliative clients and/or friends and family members of people who have a life-limiting illness, as well as grief support for those who have lost someone close to them.

"It was a small group where you found you could share your experience of grief and be listened to. It was facilitated by capable leaders who made sure everyone was heard and respected.
I learned that it is okay to feel your grief, not to push it away."
 

After the loss of a loved one many people find it helpful to connect with others who have experienced a loss. Hospice Georgina provides a comfortable, supportive and safe environment for groups. Being part of a grief support group can be a healthy step in accepting the loss of a loved one and moving down the path to renewed happiness and wellness. Groups are facilitated by trained volunteers.

Use of our lending library, community education sessions, and referrals to other community agencies are all a part of Hospice Georgina’s Grief Services. Please contact Hospice for more information.

Disenfranchised Grief: We All Have the Right to Grieve

If a loved one has passed away and for any reason at all you feel like you have to hide your grief – you may be experiencing disenfranchised grief, which can be defined as a kind of grief which others feel you are not “entitled to.” Disenfranchised grief can occur because:

  • Others feel your relationship with the person who passed away is not ‘significant enough’. Victims of disenfranchised grief can include carers whose patient has passed away, neighbours of the deceased, and work colleagues. In this day and age of social media, loss of an online friend one has never even met in person, can be very painful. Miscarriage or stillbirth, death of a step child or parent, of a foster child or of a girlfriend or boyfriend, can all be ‘minimized’ by others. Sometimes, their prejudice can take the form of one simple statement: “You should be over it by now.” This is especially true when the death isn’t of a person, but of a pet.
  • The death is stigmatized: Some types of death are still subject to stigma. These include death by suicide, drug overdose, death to due accidents brought about by drinking, and even death by HIV/AIDS. Those who are grieving may feel that they have to hide their grief or find that when they discuss how they are feeling, the reaction from those around them is negative. Another source of stigmatization is death by overdose. In the United States, overdose rates have consistently risen over the past few years yet when they do occur, communities can sometimes be reticent to talk about or acknowledge it, or to permit loved ones to grieve. In many ways, the complex nature of addiction is vastly misunderstood.
  • Your family or friends do not approve of your relationship with the person you are grieving for: If you were in a homosexual relationship with the person who passed away, and there is discrimination in your family or social circle, you may experience the pain of disenfranchised grief. This can also happen if you were in an extra-marital relationship with the person you lost, or friends and family do not approve of the relationship you are in.
  • Others feel you are grieving for ‘too long’ or you are not grieving the way they expect you to: It is tough enough to lose someone, let alone to receive criticism for reacting differently to death, than others expect you to. There is no time limit on grief; some take longer to come to terms with loss than others. Some cry more than others, who may find solace in socializing more than they used to in the past. Laughter, taking part in social interactions does not mean grief is not present. Nobody can define the right level or time limits that one can feel upset.

If you find that you are subject to disenfranchised grief, take care of yourself in the following ways:

  • Know first and foremost that you have a right to grieve in the way you need to. This may mean saying no to social occasions, taking on less work or meeting with understanding friends or family members more. It is vital to have a strong sense of your right to feel and think how you do.
  • Know that have a right to be validated. Surround yourself by people who do not try to put a stop to your grief or diminish it. These ‘golden relationships’ will allow you to feel free to talk or remain silent. Grieving does not have to involve talking about your loss at all; simply being in the company of someone who understands and with whom you can share meaningful conversation with regarding a wide range of issues, is helpful.
  • Heal your stress: If you have never tried holistic practices such as yoga or mindfulness meditation, this may be a great time to try them out. Mindfulness meditation really helps one through grief because it invites you to honour and recognize your thoughts and emotions, without repressing them. It also uses techniques such as controlled breathing to bring down stress levels and to leave you in a more relaxed state.
  • Pamper yourself and don’tlose touch with the things you love: Do the things that have always made you feel good. Head for a special spot where you can think clearly and if it helps, keep a journal to jot down your reactions to your loss. Also, make sure to make time for ‘meaningful distractions’, which may include exercise in the great outdoors, catching a film or going for a walk with a friend.

"Article from Gemma Fellows"