Category:helping someone who is grieving


For many Canadians, the holidays are spent reuniting with loved ones, sharing laughs, and exchanging gifts. But, for victims and families who have lost someone they love to violence, the holiday season can be extremely difficult to face. This time of the year can change from one of joy, to one filled with sadness, loneliness, and anxiety.

This is the especially true for the family of Tina Fontaine. Less than four months after the murder of 15-year-old Tina, the family will be facing their first Christmas without her. Thelma Favel raised Tina, and now that she is gone, her family’s holiday celebrations will never be the same. Thelma stated, “it is Christmas time. It is all about family, and a big part of my family is gone”. Thelma and her husband are planning to honour Tina by placing a small Christmas tree beside her grave.

If you have lost someone you love, like the Fontaine family, trying to keep up with the festivities may at times feel unbearable. During the holidays, your loved one’s absence will be especially noticeable. You may ask yourself question such as: Am I being a bad person if I have a good time and celebrate? By doing so, am I ignoring the loved one I’ve lost? Should I be mourning instead?

These questions are normal and common, as celebrating with family and friends during the holiday season may make you feel like you are forgetting your loved one. But, remembering and honouring your loved one in a special way and spending time with others who make you happy can help you through this challenging time.

Here are some tips to help you cope during the holidays:

  • Recognize that is it normal to feel sadness and/or grief throughout the holidays. Try your best not to hide or ignore your emotions. If you feel sad, it is okay to cry. If you feel angry, allow yourself to express it.
  • Notice the positives. Also allow yourself to experience joy, both during the holidays and throughout the year.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. It is okay if you need support from others. Do not feel as though you are a burden. Your friends and family members want to be there for you.
  • Remember you are not alone. Talking to other people who are going through a similar experience may help.
  • Take care of your health. Continue to eat healthy, exercise and get plenty of rest, as this can help lower your stress level.
  • You may want to celebrate old traditions or start new ones. For some people, old traditions may be too painful to endure. Others feel it is important to continue old traditions. For instance, you may wish to hang up your loved one’s stocking.
  • Creating a special tribute, such as lighting a candle in honour of your loved one or reliving fond memories, may help you express gratitude for having had your loved one in your life. Others choose to set a place for their loved one at the table during the holidays. There are many ways to honour the person you are missing.

Is healing possible after a tragedy?

The community of Nanaimo, BC is reeling following a shooting on April 30th at a sawmill.  Kevin Douglas Addison has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder for the attack that took place where he used to work.  Earlier this month, Kaiti Perras, 23, Josh Hunter, 23, Zackariah Rathwell, 21, Jordan Segura, 22, and Lawrence Hong, 27, were fatally stabbed at a house where they were celebrating the last day of classes at the University of Calgary.

When tragedy strikes in communities across Canada citizens suffer a traumatic loss. Grief after a traumatic event is a lifelong journey that transforms someone.  Each person goes through the process in a different way and in their own time.  There are challenges along the way that can disrupt the healing process, or provide strength and a pathway to move forward.  The support of family, friends and acquaintances is critical as people cope with loss and try to create new meaning in their lives.  There are simple things you can do to help someone in your community who may be struggling:

1. Be there. Some people think that those who experience trauma need space to sort things through.  Assume the opposite.  Most people need others to be present.  Being there for someone, even if they are an acquaintance, is powerful and appreciated.  Don’t be afraid or let your own busy life get in the way.

2. Don’t compare losses. Although it is natural to try and offer words of comfort to someone, it is not helpful to compare traumas.  Losing someone in a traumatic event is not the same as losing a much loved pet or someone who is elderly and has lived a full life.

3. Offer practical assistance.  Non-verbal expressions of love are healing. Bringing food or helping with household chores are simple, kind gestures that will be appreciated and remembered.

4. Do not say “you will get over it”.   In a traumatic loss, there is no such thing as closure or getting over it.  People have to learn to cope without a treasured loved one in their lives – it is a new normal and it takes time to heal.

5. Listen & offer long-term support.  Individuals and families who experience traumatic loss will be dealing with it for the rest of their lives.  Let them know you are here for them now and in the future.  Offering compassion and active listening are key.

As human beings, we have a tendency to want to solve problems and repair brokenness. Yet, what people need most in the aftermath of tragedy is someone to be there with them.  People who are suffering need to have control over their lives and the ability to make choices.  Being there for someone who is in pain is difficult, but your presence will show them they are not alone and that they have support as they move toward healing and recovery.

The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime offers support, research and education to survivors and stakeholders.

What's New

  • :

    Read our call to action asking Canada’s political party leaders about how they will support victims of crime in the upcoming election.

  • :

    Read our letter to House Leaders to join our call to action and undertake a legislated review of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

  • :

    Given the five-year anniversary of Bill C-32: Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR), please read the letter we have sent to all MPs across Canada as we try to make sure the mandated Parliamentary review will take place.

  • :

    We have responded to the Honourable Doug Downey, regarding VQRP+ cuts. Read it here. (Our original letter is here and his response can be found here.)


  • :

    Read the response we received, regarding our letter to the Hon. Mark Furey, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Nova Scotia concerning support for victims of the mass shooting of April 18-19, 2020 in Portapique, NS.

  • Archive for What's New »