New space will help Calgarians dealing with tragic loss
More Calgarians dealing with the death of a loved one will be
able to get support with the opening of a new space for the Alberta
Health Services (AHS) Grief Support Program, which was made
possible through more than $640,000 in donations to date to Calgary
The program, started by Reverend Bob Glasgow, has helped
bereaved families in Calgary for more than two decades. However, it
outgrew its current space capacity and a new space was needed to
accommodate more clients.
"This new space will allow us to better coordinate grief support
services throughout the Calgary Zone and provide a safe place for
people to express and feel their emotions after a death of a loved
one," says Reverend Bob Glasgow, Manager, Grief Support Program.
"It will allow AHS staff and volunteers to provide confidential
counselling, group support and education to the community."
When former clients Bob and Julie Hamilton and Michael and Linda
Shaw heard about the need for funding for the new space, they
didn't hesitate to help out.
Bob and Julie Hamilton lost their son, Tim, in a workplace
accident when he was 19 years-old. The loss was unbearable, but
Julie heard about the Grief Support Program and contacted Bob
Glasgow a few weeks after the accident to seek help. The couple had
one-on-one sessions with Bob and also attended group counselling
sessions with other parents who had recently lost a child. The
group met formally for six weeks and after that, they got together
once a month at each other's homes for two years.
"Death, like birth, isn't fully understood until you experience
it. No one can prepare you for it, but the Grief Support Program
taught us skills to cope with this very difficult time in our
life," says Julie. "I grieve and ache for Tim every day, but the
program gave me tools I could use to grieve and still be able to
love my daughter, my husband and get out the front door each day.
Losing someone you love is something you never get over, and all
Calgarians go through this at some point. The Grief Support Program
helps people get back to a functioning life."
Michael and Linda Shaw were a strong support system for the
Hamilton's. The families had been good friends for many years, and
the Shaw's helped Bob and Julie cope with their loss. But three
years later, the unimaginable happened-Michael and Linda Shaw
learned that their 15-year-old son, Michael ("Mikey"), had been
killed during an avalanche on a school ski trip. Michael and Linda
utilized the Grief Support Program to help them cope with the
"The Grief Support Program allowed us to face our grief and get
our lives back together again. Bob saved our lives and helped us
stay together," says Michael Shaw. "Most people don't have
experience with grief, nor do they know how to handle it. This
program helps families cope as they struggle to manage grief, keep
their homes together and rebuild their lives after a loss."
When the Shaw's and the Hamilton's heard about the need for new
space for the program, the couples didn't hesitate to help give
back to the program and joined the Grief Support Fundraising
Committee. Both Bob and Michael quickly picked up the phone and
started calling friends and contacts, as well as issuing letters
asking people for donations for the new program space.
"This is an incredible example where families who were
positively impacted by an exceptional program have chosen to give
back to help others," says Sally Flintoft, CEO, Calgary Health
Trust. "We're very grateful to everyone who donated to this
project. We're also very appreciative to the Grief Support
Fundraising Committee for their dedication to raising funds because
of their personal ties to the program."
The new space, located in the Richmond Road Diagnostic Treatment
Centre, holds more offices for grief counsellors, additional
meeting rooms and a library. This expansion will help reduce wait
times for individual counselling sessions and will help accommodate
more group sessions.
In 2010-11, the Grief Support Program helped 1,111 clients.
Individual counselling is presently offered to clients through a
multi-disciplinary team of professional counsellors. In addition,
Grief Support Program groups are offered each year to more than 450
participants. Group counselling is offered to individuals who have
suffered the loss of a spouse, child, sibling, parent or loss