Bereavement support is an ongoing need in Haliburton County. Individual bereavement support has been available through Community Hospice since 1994 (initially developed and provided by SIRCH for 20 years, then transferred to the Community Programs Division at Haliburton Highlands Health Services). About the time that Hospice changed sponsors, SIRCH was developing Bereavement Group support, using a model created by Lyle Horne at Hospice Peterborough, called Journey Through Grief. SIRCH offered these groups in the county every spring and fall for three years. People who have attended the groups have spoken of the great impact of going through such a program with others who are also experiencing grief. The Journey Through Grief groups were facilitated by trained volunteer facilitators with expertise in bereavement support.
Following several discussions between HHHS Community Programs VP, Stephanie MacLaren and SIRCH Executive Director, Gena Robertson, there was a mutual agreement that grief and bereavement support can be offered through HHHS Hospice and Palliative Care programing. While individual support through the grieving process can be accessed through existing programming with hospice volunteers or the social work support through the Palliative Care Community Team, HHHS recognizes that group support is an important component of the grieving process for many of our community members. In addition to ongoing individual support and the informal support group, Lunch for the Bereaved, which meets regularly in Minden and Haliburton, HHHS will be working in the coming weeks to further identify bereavement supports needed in our region. This work will begin with a community-wide survey to be launched in December.
SIRCH has great gratitude and appreciation to all the volunteers who have made bereavement programming possible over the past years. Gena Robertson thanked the volunteers who have facilitated the Journey Through Grief groups. Following a discussion at the SIRCH Board of Directors, and a motion to close the Bereavement Program, Gena said “The volunteer facilitators have dedicated hundreds of hours to facilitating the bereavement groups, and they have made such a difference in the lives of the group members! However with no core funding to support the groups, it makes sense to pass the baton to HHHS.”
An invitation has been extended to all volunteers from HHHS and the volunteers who have been involved in the SIRCH Bereavement Program to be a part of the HHHS bereavement supports in our community.