Skip to content

Hospice Society preparing for return of grief support programs

The Airdrie Hospice Society is once again offering programs to help individuals through their grief.
LN-Grief support web
A local grief support program is launching sessions again this fall. Kristina Tripkovic/Unsplash

The Airdrie Hospice Society is once again offering programs to help individuals through the grieving process.

Three small group sessions are being offered throughout the fall and winter months. The adult grief support group begins Sept. 30 and runs until Nov. 18. A children’s group for ages 12 to 14 runs from Sept. 29 to Dec. 15, and a “Cooking for One After a Loss” workshop in partnership with the Airdrie Food Bank is planned for some time next month.

Both support groups will meet virtually, and registration is required. Plans have yet to be decided for the cooking workshop, and will be designed according to recent public health restrictions, according to the society.

“There aren’t a lot of grief groups in town, particularly for kids,” said the society’s president Daria Skibington-Roffel.

She further explained the children’s program is designed in a way that tackles a different theme each week. Topics of discussion can include the meaning of grief, the signs of grief, and the idea that grief is not a linear process – similar to the structure of the adult group.

Skibington-Roffel said education helps people who are grieving to understand that what they are experiencing is normal.

“A lot of people just think they’re going crazy, there’s something wrong with them because they feel so sad or they feel sick or they [can’t sleep or eat]. There’s a whole bunch of different responses to a traumatic event,” she said.

“[The support group] gives a lot of people the chance to say, “Okay, this is normal.” Then they don’t feel so bad and they learn about how it works.”

She added the “five steps of grief” often referenced in popular culture are not meant to be applied to the person who has suffered a loss. This creates confusion and frustration when someone feels they are not transitioning properly through the numerical steps, which is normal.

“[The five steps of grief were] actually created for doctors to use with patients who they are giving a terminal diagnosis to. So, that is only if you find out you are dying,” she said.

The death of a loved one, a pet, or even the loss of a job can all be proponents of grief, Skibington-Roffel said. She explained grieving individuals can feel happy one day and sad the next, or they may experience brain fog and a sense of numbness.

Time is also a big part of working through grief, she added. People often feel pressure to “feel okay” within a certain time period following the loss, which is not realistic.

“Unfortunately, grief is natural and can take its own time,” she explained. 

The “Cooking for One” program is designed for individuals who have lost a spouse or someone they were caring for.

“You get used to making dinner for the two of you,” Skibington-Roffel said.

The program works by creating a bonding experience among individuals who have suffered a loss over the simple act of cooking and eating. She added it encourages singles to cook healthy meals for themselves rather than foregoing cooking entirely.

“A lot of [people] will just think ‘what’s the point? It’s just me – I’ll have a bowl of cereal or order a pizza,’” she said.

At the event, Skibington-Roffel said participants have the opportunity to cook extra servings to bring home with them and freeze, so they can have healthy and hearty meals on hand.

She did not have any immediate details for the cooking program, as conversations need to take place between the society and the Airdrie Food Bank regarding hosting the event safely and in accordance with new public health measures.

The president said the main take-away for most people who take part in the society's grief support groups is the sense of community they find, the knowledge they gain, and the reassurance they find that they are not alone in their experiences. She said lots of connections and friendships are formed in the groups, and often continue after the sessions are over.

For more information and to register for either of the grief support programs, visit airdriehospice.ca/services