I am suffering from the loss of my spouse/child/parent/friend/other. Where can I get help/support?
Support is available through your local parish. Speak to your priest or pastoral leader about the support available in your congregation. There may be support available through other area congregations or faith groups. As well you can call the Family Ministry Office of the Diocese of Hamilton for referrals: 905-528-7988 ext. 2250.
If you would like to meet with a bereavement counsellor, there are many people who work directly with a local funeral home. If you are employed, you may have benefits that cover counselling, so ask your supervisor, or human resources department. You can also locate counsellors and psychotherapists who are working in a private practice, by searching for a therapist on the internet, or by contacting the Family Ministry Office. Fees for counsellors services will vary in range from free to over $100.
Bereaved Families of Ontario also offer a wide variety of supports. For more information check out their webpage at http://www.bereavedfamilies.net/.
A list of certified pastoral counsellors is available on the website of the Canadian Association for Spiritual Care: http://www.spiritualcare.ca/
2.What are normal feelings when you are grieving?
All feelings are normal when you are grieving. Often we have been taught that feelings are either “good” or “bad” but the truth is, our feelings are created within us to guide us through life’s experiences. Each individual’s experience is as unique as their own life story and the experiences that influence how we grieve. You will experience feelings that are comfortable for you and easy to accept, such as joy and inner peace, a sense of relief, and renewed hope as you learn to rebuild your life. It is also very common to experience many uncomfortable feelings such as guilt, anger, resentment, hopelessness, loneliness, or jealousy of others who still have their loved one with them. It is important to accept your feelings as a meaningful dimension of your unique experience and personality. If you are struggling or feeling “stuck” in feelings that are difficult for you, it might be helpful to talk things over with a priest, or a grief counsellor.
If your loved one suffered, and you were witness to their suffering, or if you have been a caregiver for a long time, you may also find that you experience flashbacks of those experiences that were particularly difficult for you. You may have dreams about these experiences. This is also a normal aspect of the grieving process, as you reflect on these experiences and in time, release the difficult memories and images. Bereavement counsellors are professionally trained to guide you through any distressing aspects of your journey.
3. What are some of the things to expect in the experience of grief?
The following list provided with permission from Roslyn Crichton, The Coping Centre (Caring for Other People in Grief), 1740 Blair Road, Cambridge, Ontario. 1- 519- 650-0852; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.copingcentre.com
Your grief will take longer than most people think.
Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
Your grief will involve many changes and be continually developing.
Your grief will show itself in all spheres of your life: psychological, social, physical.
Your grief will depend upon how you perceive the loss.
You will grieve for many things both symbolic and tangible, not just the death alone.
You will grieve for what you have lost already and for what you have lost for the future.
Your grief will entail mourning not only for the actual person you lost but also for all of the hopes, dreams, and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person, and for the needs that will go unmet because of the death.
Your grief will involve a wide variety of feelings and reactions, not solely those that are generally thought of as grief, such as depression and sadness.
The loss will resurrect old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
You will have some identity confusion as a result of this major loss and the fact that you are experiencing reactions that may be quite different.
You may have a combination of anger and depression, such as irritability, frustration, annoyance, or intolerance.
You will feel some anger and guilt, or at least some manifestation of these emotions.
You may have a lack of self-concern.
You may experience grief spasms, acute upsurges of grief that occur suddenly with no warning.
You will have trouble thinking (memory, organization, and intellectual processing) and making decisions.
You may feel like you are going crazy.
You may be obsessed with the death and preoccupied with the deceased.
You may begin a search for meaning and may question your religion and/or philosophy of life.
You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
You may find yourself having a number of physical reactions.
You may find that there are certain dates, events, and stimuli that bring upsurges in grief.
Society will have unrealistic expectations about your mourning and may respond inappropriately to you.
Certain experiences later in life may resurrect grief for you temporarily.
4. Are there support groups for people who are grieving?
There are many opportunities for support in our diocese. Some support groups meet and are led by a range of people: a professionally trained grief counsellor, peer support, priest, music therapist, or psychotherapist. Other groups might be a social group where people who have lost a loved one gather for a social time. You may prefer a more formalized support group or you may be looking for a social time with people who share the experience of bereavement. It is a good idea to reach out for this kind of support
Links to the following websites will be helpful as you find the right group or activity for your needs:
Bereaved Families of Ontario
Family Ministry, Diocese of Hamilton Grief Page on website:
Canadian Virtual Hospice
5. What other issues might I need to deal with during this time? (Things we felt would need to be addressed in the response to this question were: financial, legal, taxes, being single)
Financial – the loss of your loved one’s income can create financial stress, lead to a change in housing, and other financial concerns. If you are in this situation after a death, you may contact a local social service agency for assistance, ask if the funeral home has any support services for this area, speak to your bank or financial advisor, or to your accountant.
If you have used the services of a funeral home, your funeral director will be able to assist with the details of forms, CPP benefits and other administrative needs that relate to how to deal with taxes and government forms that need to be completed.
Here is a check list to assist you to undertake the various responsibilities now that your loved one has died:
- • Make funeral arrangements.
- • You need a lawyer, an account and a financial advisor to settle your spouse’s affairs.
- • Apply for government benefits (i.e. Widowed Spouse’s Allowance, or Veteran Benefits)
- • Notify CPP and Old Age Security of your spouse’s death so to avoid overpayments that need to be repaid.
- • Contact current and past employers for the potential of retiree life insurance, or company pension plan, or accrued pensions that were never paid out.
- • File life insurance claims. They will require a death certificate and other documentation.
- • Contact banks, credit unions, etc.
- • Close other accounts (i.e. provincial health insurance, spouse’s driver’s licence, credit cards, social insurance and passport) and take spouse’s name off of joint accounts.
- • Revise wills and powers of attorney.
- • Review your real estate (but do not rush this matter. Wait until the emotions have settled).
- • Preserve your assests and avoid fraud, or others seeking your assets.
(As written on the Sun Life Financial website; article written by Sheryl Smolkin)