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Coping with the loss of a loved one is never easy. Emotions of shock, anger, and guilt are common and it may feel like the waves of sadness will never end. For Charlene, the knowledge of how grief can affect someone didn’t make the grieving process any easier.

“I’ve worked with clients experiencing loss and bereavement my whole career, but I was really floundering after I experienced the loss of a family member,” says Charlene, a social worker with over 35 years of experience.

Charlene looked into bereavement support for herself and attended two of Circle of Care’s bereavement support programs, receiving both individual counselling and group support. During her individual counselling, Charlene worked with Case Manager Charlotte Koven to help her set individual goals and cope with her grief.

“Charlotte was able to focus my grief and really work with the issue I had,” says Charlene. “She provided examples and ideas for ways to manage the loss, while also being so compassionate towards me.”

After her individual counselling sessions, Charlene went on to attend our 8-week bereavement support group, where she had the opportunity to connect with others who had also experienced loss.

“It was helpful and validating and there was a good structure to it,” says Charlene. “Each week we would discuss strategies to cope with grief, learn more about grief, and it really helped frame my feelings which made my bereavement more manageable.”

Helping to Lighten the Burden of Grief

As grief affects the physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual well-being, Circle of Care offers four different bereavement support programs: virtual bereavement support groups, individual bereavement support, bereavement support volunteers, and a drop-in Caring Cafe. Each program is run by trained professionals, providing emotional and practical support within a welcoming and compassionate environment.

“Grief is a lonely journey. I would recommend to anyone who is grieving to try to find a little bit of companionship, especially during the worst of your pain,” says Charlene. “Though it won’t take it away, it does help lighten the burden.”

A Growing Need for Connection in Physically Distanced Times

Interest and registration for Circle of Care’s bereavement support programs has increased throughout the pandemic as more people cope with sudden losses and fewer ways in which to connect with friends or their community for support. Knowing that there was a strong need for these services, Circle of Care began offering virtual bereavement support programs in June 2020.

After being married for over 40 years, Susan suffered the loss of her husband right before the pandemic hit.

“Grieving during the outbreak of COVID-19 was brutal because you couldn’t get physically close to anyone you needed, and you couldn’t travel to see them,” says Susan.

She reached out to Circle of Care for bereavement support and received a few individual sessions prior to the pandemic before attending one of our virtual support groups later on.

“Even though it was virtual due to the pandemic, it was so helpful to get to connect with people and share my stories – while also listening to theirs,” she says. “Everyone was so compassionate and caring; the support group really made my grief more manageable.”

This sentiment has been echoed by many participants, who shared their gratitude for the virtual support they have received. Listening to the experiences of others and getting to share their own journeys has helped to emphasize that they are not alone.

Have you recently experienced the loss of a loved one? We have a number of ways to help you through this difficult transition, including support groups and counselling sessions. Our bereavement support is geared to adults who have experienced the death of a spouse or other close family member or friend. We are not able to provide counselling for child or infant loss. For more information about our bereavement programs, visit our Bereavement Support page.