Grief First Aid for Professionals

The Cause

Pilgrims Hospice Society (PHS) provides supportive and compassionate family-centred care to enhance the quality and dignity of life for those diagnosed with a progressive, life-threatening illness, as well as solace to those who are bereaved.

For over 20 years, PHS has helped hundreds of individuals and families move through the difficulties that the dying process and bereavement can bring. Our community services and programs include: the Adult Day Respite Program; Compassionate Companions Program; and Bereavement Services, comprising both Adult Grief Counselling and Expressive Arts for Grieving Children, Teens & Families.

PHS is seeking funds to support the research, curriculum development, and delivery of a new series of workshops, called 'Grief First Aid for Professionals'.

A wide variety of practitioners and professionals consistently contact PHS, asking for help to expand their knowledge and understanding of the grief process. As a result, our grief counsellors have been invited to give presentations and workshops to nurses, social workers, hospital unit managers, psychologists, teachers, and students from a variety of educational institutions.

Over time, it’s become clear that many professionals need to know more about grief and bereavement, to enhance their work and make up for what they describe as the “minimal” amount they learned in their various professional trainings.

The pilot workshop of 'Grief First Aid for Professionals', held this April, was a huge success. We initially hoped for 10 registrants and were delighted to welcome 36 professionals on the day. We also built a healthy wait-list for future workshops. All participants indicated on their evaluations that they would be extremely interested in attending future workshops. (See photo 1.)

This first workshop was delivered by two staff members, one practicum student and one community guest speaker, focusing on the basics of what grief & loss look like, and how to support those they work with. Future workshops will focus on specific topics, such as suicide, murder, baby loss, children & teens, and how grief affects relationships. We anticipate offering 'Grief First Aid for Professionals' as a series of 6 workshops spread throughout the year.

Who Will it Benefit?

As the only grief and loss program of its kind in our community, our primary goal is to help individuals and families find their healing path and demystify the vast components of bereavement and mourning.

Our bereavement services provide a safe place for all individuals and family members to explore their grief in a supportive, educational and interactive setting. Expressive Arts uniquely utilizes of a variety of creative mediums, including art, music, play, movement and other creative mediums for all participants to understand their own personal grief journey. (See photos 2 & 3)

The 'Grief First Aid for Professionals' workshop series will create a ripple effect that will benefit the whole community in the following ways:

1. The more widely professionals know about PHS and our work, the more likely they are to refer clients to our services - allowing us to expand our reach in the community and directly serve more individuals & families who are grieving.

2. The intent for the workshops is that participants will understand what normal and/or complicated grief looks like, and will feel confident in providing grief support, care or education within their own work environment. This will certainly benefit the clients they work with.

3. Those attendees helped by our training are likely to ‘spread the word’ to their colleagues and peers, encouraging more practitioners and professionals to enhance their skill set in grief & bereavement care. In this way, more bereaved clients will receive the appropriate help they need.