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UHN is offering a bereavement group for patients who are grieving the recent death of a loved one.

Organized by the Spiritual Care department and the Toronto Western Hospital's (TWH) Addictions Program, the bereavement group is designed to provide these patients with emotional, social and spiritual support during a difficult time in their lives.

"If you're coming to the hospital for treatment and experience the death of a loved one, it delays the healing process—physically, spiritually and emotionally," says June Mawhinney, a Spiritual Care Provider at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH). But if you are in a support group, it helps to carry you through."

Through participation in weekly group sessions, patients will have the opportunity to reflect on the life and death of their loved one, explore healthy ways to cope with grief, and discover new strengths and insights that will help them adjust to life without the deceased person. Topics for discussion will include the grieving process, guilt, anger, letting go of resentments, spirituality, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion.

According to Sharon Konyen, who is also a Spiritual Care Provider at PMH, grief "is a wound like any other." She says support groups help people to realize that what they're going through is normal. For example, a grieving person might think that he or she saw their deceased loved one in a crowd, or the grieving person might set a place at the dinner table for the deceased person—both common reactions after the death of someone significant.

"Patients will discover that other people are experiencing the same things and that they're not going crazy," adds Mawhinney. The two-hour group sessions will take place over eight weeks at PMH and the TWH. The groups will be made up of 10 to 15 people. To be eligible to participate, patients must have lost their loved one at least six months ago and be willing to talk about their feelings with the other group members.

Healthcare professionals are invited to refer patients who might benefit from the program. For more information, call Annabelle Menezes at 416 340 4055.​​​

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