Chapter 6: Is more help needed?

Finding support

I've been there
David talks grief support programs he and his children attended. (3:22)Video transcript
The expert says
Andrea Warnick, children's grief counsellor, describes the healing power of spending time with other grieving children.(3:22)Video transcript
For the counsellor's ears only
David talks about his children's need for outside support.(3:22)Video transcript

I could tell Gillian was trying to protect me just as much as I wanted to protect her. I suggested she talk with someone she didn't feel she had to protect. 

I realized that the most important thing I could do to support the kids was to take care of myself. I once read that if the captain of a ship is calm, then everyone else is too. 

Counselling for you

If you seek out counselling to help you deal with this death, feel free to tell your child. In this way, you can be a role model, showing them that:

  • It’s okay to ask for professional support.
  • Counselling can be helpful when life is difficult.  
Learn more at in the module Caring for yourself

Services for your child

Depending on the services offered in your community, support for grieving children may be available through:

  • Local support groups, including hospices and palliative care associations.
  • Kids’ grief and bereavement camps.
  • Individual counselling.
  • Other professionals or leaders within the faith community.

Support groups

Group grief or bereavement programs can be an important source of support.

  • Children often feel less alone when they spend time with peers who're also grieving.
  •  They benefit from knowing that their feelings, worries and experiences are common.
  • Some programs offer groups for adults at the same time so parents also receive support. 
  • These programs are often offered free of charge.  

Grief Camps 

Grief camps are another excellent opportunity to meet children in a similar situation. 

  • They’re usually offered only after a death has happened. 
  • Most camps will take campers even if many years have passed since the death. 
  • They often take campers from a wide geographical area. If there’s no camp in your area, your child may be eligible to attend one in another community.
  • Many of these programs are free of charge or allow you to pay what you can. 

Individual counselling 

Individual support from a professional or volunteer can also be helpful.

  • Ideally, this person will have training in grief support for children.
  • Some communities have programs or agencies that provide this support free-of-charge. Often, however, there is a fee for service, which can be a barrier. If you have a health benefits package, check your coverage to see what you may be able to access. 

Other professionals 

Many communities don’t have group or individual support programs specific to grieving children. In this case, other possible resources include:

  • A school counsellor or social worker.
  • A family physician, pediatrician or nurse practitioner.
  • A spiritual care specialist.
  • A play therapist.
  • A children’s mental health centre. 

If you decide to connect your child with any of these resources, consider asking about their experience or training in children’s grief. 

Finding local resources

These organizations may have information about what’s available in your community:

  • Funeral homes;
  • Hospice or palliative care units;
  • Children’s mental health centres;
  • Provincial palliative care organizations;
  • Family physicians and paediatricians; and,
  • Schools 
Learn more about resources in your community and on the Internet  by clicking on the "Resources" tab on the home page or browse listing of local programs and services at Canadian Virtual Hospice.

Online support group 

Canadian Virtual Hospice Discussion Forums