To provide an empathetic community of peer support and education for individuals and families who are grieving.
Living with Loss
“The people there have literally saved my life, and they don’t even know it.”
Marie’s partner died in a plane crash. With the pain from the loss still new and incredibly raw, she stepped into her first Living with Loss peer support group. Scared and unsure at first, she soon came to connect with the people in the room. They have become friends, and in many ways, family.
“Every group I pick up something that will help me for the next two weeks,” says Marie. “I must be getting something out of it. I keep coming back.”
Each year, up to 350 families benefit from Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region’s (BFOMR) Living with Loss program, a support group that provides peer-to-peer support for those who have experienced the death of a loved one.
While each individual loss is different and each story and experience is unique, every month this group of people is brought together through one common bond: the death of a loved one.
“The loss of a loved one is a loneliness I’ve never felt before,” says Gord.
The grief he experienced as a result of his daughter’s tragic death not only had an emotional toll, but a physical one as well. Exercise had taken a backseat as he tried to manage his grief and he immediately felt the effects. Once he began attending a regular Living with Loss group, he felt his confidence and desire to get active return. Today, the group has a permanent place on his calendar – he has yet to miss a single session.
“That deep pit of emotions is pretty devastating,” says Roger, whose wife died very suddenly from illness. “It is a process you won’t get through without help or without time. Not well anyway, not the way you should.”
Group, for him, has become a family of sorts. “It is gratifying, helpful, warm – the kind of emotion you need,” he says. “I think life is going to be livable again. I’m looking forward to that.”
Through the Living with Loss program, Marie, Gord and Roger have been able to share their stories, gain a better understanding of the grief process, and have learned so much through the guidance of the volunteer facilitators who run the group. The peer-to-peer aspect of BFOMR programs is what makes Bereaved Families unique – participants are being guided along the grief journey by people who have experienced a death themselves.
- $500 provides support for up to 20 bereaved families (1 group)
- $150 provides training for 1 volunteer facilitator that can provide support for up to 20 families biweekly
- Volunteering 7 hours of time within this group helps up to 28 people in their journey of grief; 1 hour of time helps 4 people in need
Financial Donations: We do not charge a fee for service and all of our programs are offered free of charge to the community. We rely on donations, corporate sponsorships and grants to be able to provide peer-to-peer bereavement support in our community. Fundraising/memorial events form the basis of our annual asks to the community. Funds not only allow us to run our programs, they also ensure that the proper training and ongoing research can happen to ensure we are best able to support members of our community on their grief journey.
Gifts of Time: All of our programs are fully run by volunteers so it is no surprise that our volunteers are the greatest strength and asset to our organization. Volunteers, who are bereaved themselves, participate in a 20-hour training program and eventually facilitate a support group or provide one-on-one support to our members, a process our volunteers regularly say helps them reinvest the energy they used while grieving, re-purposing it into something positive for the community.