What Helps

Community Resources

Every community has some form of support for those who are grieving. It may take one call for you to connect with the resource that is right for you or it may take more than one call. If, in the early days, you can only make one call a day or even one call a week that is better than making no calls. And if you’re not ready to call, that’s okay: just wait until you are. But, if you would like some professional support and you’re unable to make that call and a friend asks, “What can I do to help?” please let them make the call on your behalf. Let them help.


Every hospice decides on which programs it will offer. These may include grief walking groups that meet weekly, monthly meetings, one on one visitor programs, and one on one telephone support. Thankfully, there are also programs for children. To find a hospice near you: Google the words hospice and your location (i.e. hospice and Waterloo, Ontario.)

Funeral Homes

Funeral homes frequently offer counseling programs. If this is not the case they are still excellent resources for knowing what resources are available in the community.

Not for Profit Organizations

Bereaved Families of Ontario is an example of a not-for-profit that offers non-denominational peer-to-peer support and group counseling for those who grieve. To locate this type of organization Google the words bereaved families and your location (i.e. bereaved families of Winnipeg.)

Spiritual Leaders

Faith based support groups for the grieving are becoming more common. Even if your personal place of worship does not offer a program, it may be offered by another location for those of your faith. Please reach out to someone in your faith community to learn more.

Professional Counselors/Therapists

The funeral home that supported me when my husband died provided one on one counseling. This is not always an option. Because we are vulnerable when we grieve I recommend contacting an organization already working in this sector for a referral (see above.) It is possible to Google the words grief counseling and your location (i.e. grief counseling and Victoria, BC.) but I don’t recommend it, unless this is your only option. IF it is your only option then please read reviews and speak to the person on the phone before meeting them if possible. Grief does funny things to our brains and we are vulnerable when we grieve. It takes courage to move forward. Please do so safely.

Books on Grief

I am a reader and I read extensively on grief after my husband died. I am often asked if there are any grief books that I would recommend. Besides my own book of course, below is a list of books that I found helpful. Because there are many books on grief and I’ve now spent years in this space this section also includes resources recommended by others whom I’ve come to know and trust who too are working to support the bereaved. It’s not possible for me to read everything and I am grateful to these people for their input and insights.

A Grief Observed

By C.S. Lewis
A Grief Observed captures C.S. Lewis’ struggle after the loss of his wife. He writes not only about how lost he feels but also about his challenges with faith during this time. It is poignant and beautifully written.

Broken Open: How difficult times can help us grow
By Elizabeth Lesser
For some reason Broken Open spoke to me and helped me begin the process of moving from just feeling my grief to being able to think about it.

The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion
I didn’t read this book until much later. It’s more of an intellectual telling of Ms. Didion’s own experiences with the loss of her husband during a difficult time in her life. From time to time it veers off and there is a passage or thought bubble that gets thrown into the main text. I loved this about the book because it reminded me that even accomplished writers such as Ms. Didion go off on tangents and become distracted when they grieve.

If you would like to recommend a resource for review please contact Heike at [email protected]

Blogs & Websites

An Eclectic Life by Heike Mertins

(Search under the grief section of the blog)

The Grief Journey: Dr. Bill Webster

Dr. Webster runs a grief support program. There are many resources including video on his website. This is a faith-based resource, though much of what is discussed applies to all who grieve. Dr. Webster lost his wife many years ago when his children were young. Unfortunately, he also lost his son in 2018.

Books on Death and Dying

The Good Death: Making the most of our final choices

By Sandra Martin

Being Mortal

By Atul Gawanda

If you would like to recommend a resource for review please contact Heike at [email protected]