Supportive Services

Supportive Services provides social, psychological, spiritual, and practical support to those in our community and in our residential hospice who have a life-limiting illness, their family members, and those grieving the death of a significant other.  We offer a variety of services to address the unique needs of those in our community.  All services are offered FREE of charge to the Sarnia-Lambton Community.

Contact us for more information on our services or to complete an intake with one of our coordinators at 519-337-0537 or email at

Adult Bereavement Program

The Adult Bereavement Program provides support to address the unique grief and bereavement needs of those within our community. Our groups are designed to establish a fellowship for the bereaved, creating opportunities for mutual support, providing education on grief and bereavement and exploring the resiliency and strength within all of us to cope with loss. 

  • Bereavement Mutual Peer Support Groups are available to anyone in our community, regardless of the cause of death. Our groups are separated into types of relationships: Bereaved Parents, Spousal Loss and Family Loss. Each group is 8 weeks long, meets once a week, and is facilitated by trained professionals and volunteers. Stories and feelings are shared in a safe environment, education on grief and coping strategies is provided, memorizing activities and rituals are all interwoven throughout our groups to support individuals in their grief journey. 
  • Bereaved Drop In is held twice a month for continued peer support and opportunity for grief expression. This group is open to individuals who have completed one of our bereavement support groups. We know that grief doesn’t end just because your 8-week support group has completed, so we offer continued support through our drop-in program. 
  • Bereavement Walking Group is an opportunity to meet and walk with others who have lost a loved one. Guided by St. Joseph's Hospice staff and volunteers, join a group of other grievers on a scenic 2.5 km route in Canatara Park.

Individual Counselling

Person-centered counselling is provided by a qualified professional specializing in grief and bereavement. We offer a safe place to name and express feelings and reactions associated with grief and loss. Individuals in our community who have experienced the death of a significant person can receive up to six (6) counselling sessions. Our programs are open to all types of losses, regardless of relations to the deceased or cause of death.

At this time, we have exceeded our capacity for the program and have had to temporarily put a hold on adding additional names of those 18+ to our counselling wait list. If you or someone you know is reaching out for support, our staff will assist in navigating where in the community you may be able to access one-to-one counselling services from our community partners.

Caring Hearts Children’s Program

Caring Hearts Children’s Program: Supporting children, youth and families facing the dying or death of a loved one

Do you know a child or youth who is grieving? We can help! 

Navigating grief when a significant person is dying or has died can be a difficult task for families. Grief is a natural reaction to loss, but children and youth often experience it differently than the adults in their lives. The Caring Hearts Children’s Program provides family-centered support by addressing the unique needs of children, youth and families anticipating a death and grieving after a loss.

  • Child/Teen Bereavement Groups: Peer support groups are offered in the fall and spring to any child or youth in Sarnia-Lambton who has experienced the death of a significant person, regardless of the cause of death. Groups are separated by age and provide developmentally appropriate child/youth-centered activities. Various modalities such as games, art and music are used in group to focus on topics such as changes, feelings, self-care, and memories. Groups provide psychoeducation on grief, coping strategies, memorizing activities, rituals and guided supportive sharing. They are facilitated by a trained professional and supported by our skilled volunteers. 
    • Children’s Groups (ages 6-9 and 10-13) are 6 weeks long. There is a requirement of a commitment to all 6 sessions from the participants and their caregivers.
    • Teen Groups (ages 14-17) are 8 weeks long. Teen groups are offered both at hospice, as well as directly within the high schools in Sarnia-Lambton (as requested by the school). 
  • Anticipatory Grief Support: This service is for children and youth who are experiencing the life-limiting illness of a loved one or a life-limiting illness themselves. Children are allotted up to six (6) sessions of anticipatory grief support. Sessions can be held individually or in groups (eg. siblings, cousins who share a loved one who is facing a life-limiting illness). These services are offered by a trained professional. Children/youth may engage in memorial/legacy activities, learn about illness and dying, talk about the changes and emotions related to the illness and what to expect in the illness/dying process and after (eg. Funeral preparation).
    Special arrangements for support can be made for children/youth whose significant person is living in the residence. 
  • Caregiver Psychoeducation: Caregivers can meet individually with the program coordinator to receive support and education on supporting their grieving child or youth between ages 0-18. 
  • Caregiving for a Grieving Child Group: is an educational group for any adult in Sarnia-Lambton who is supporting a child/youth grieving the death of a significant person. Each group is 6 weeks long and runs concurrently with the Caring Hearts Children’s Program ages 6-9 and 10-13 groups. Groups have a curriculum that focuses on grief responses of children and youth based on developmental stages, ways to support grieving children/youth, and ways to navigate caregivers’ own grief while supporting others. This group is facilitated in collaboration with the Adult Bereavement Program.
  • Kids’ Camp: An annual outdoor 5-day summer camp experience for children ages 6-13 grieving the death of a significant person. Kids’ camp is held at Canatara Park in Sarnia and is sponsored by the Kiwanas Club of Sarnia Lambton. This is an opportunity for children to take their grief outdoors and be supported by trained professionals as well as volunteers, while experiencing peer support in a day camp environment. 
  • Special Events are held throughout the year with children and their families to help memorialize and encourage a continuing bond with their significant person. These events are held prior to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the Holiday season in December to help prepare children and their families for the upcoming holidays. Special Events include a family-focused memorializing activity, supportive sharing, rituals of remembrance and promote a sense of community in a child/family’s mourning.

Support for Caregivers of Bereaved Children

New virtual program to help resource and support parents and caregivers caring for a grieving child or youth.  Consists of 5-part education series of video recordings on the following topics:

  1. Grief 101
  2. Children’s Grief 101
  3. Mourning, Rituals and Continuing Bonds
  4. Understanding and Communicating with your Child
  5. Self-Care

Bereavement Counselling:

Bereavement counselling is available to Children and youth ages 4-18 and offered by a qualified professional.  A child/youth can receive up to six (6) counselling sessions following the death of a significant other. Counselling is open to all types of losses, regardless of relations to the deceased or cause of death.  Counselling incorporates storytelling, play, art, and other child centered interventions.

Living Life Well Program

Living Life Well (Illness and Caregiver Support) provides a variety of services to educate and support individuals with a life-limiting illness and their caregivers, while enabling them to live at the end-of-life with dignity, self-determination and a sense of community.

  • Day Hospice is a monthly support group for those who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. The group provides peer support and companionship with volunteers and staff, education from guest speakers on topics such as pain and symptom management, nutrition, physiotherapy, health care system navigation, EMS services, and advance care planning. Recreational and therapeutic activities are provided such as music therapy, painting, legacy work, anticipatory grief support and a shared homemade meal. Caregivers can benefit as their loved ones attend a group as it provides an opportunity for respite
  • Volunteer Visiting Program matches one of our trained and compassionate volunteers with an individual who has a life-limiting illness. They visit between one (1) to four (4) hours a week in the individual’s home, in the community or at the Residential Hospice. Companionship, support with practical tasks (light housekeeping, meal preparation), transportation and life review/legacy work are all components of the volunteer match. 
  • Caregiver Support Group offers monthly support and psychoeducation to those caring for a loved one with a life limiting illness. Topics may include health care system navigation, advance care planning, pain and symptom management, legacy work, stages of caregiving, anticipatory grief, and self-care. Guest speakers from the community are invited to share their expertise, including Nurse Practitioners, Registered Dieticians, Personal Support Workers and EMS.

Individual Counselling:

Direct and on-going spiritual care and counselling is provided by a qualified professional specializing in end-of-life care and bereavement and is available for palliative patients and their caregivers from diagnosis through to bereavement. We provide a person-centered, compassionate, non-judgmental and culturally sensitive approach while collaborating with the patient or caregiver to address their unique spiritual, emotional and psychological needs, aimed at enhancing the quality of their life and care.

At this time, we have exceeded our capacity for the program and have had to temporarily put a hold on adding additional names of those 18+ to our counselling wait list. If you or someone you know is reaching out for support, our staff will assist in navigating where in the community you may be able to access one-to-one counselling services from our community partners.

Complementary Therapies

Complementary Therapies The term “complementary therapy” describes a wide range of therapies aimed at enhancing wellness and relaxation through mind/body techniques or touch therapy. The complementary therapies offered by the hospice are not curative treatments and are not an alternative to conventional medical practices. Rather, they complement the current care that the client is receiving and are meant to be gentle and relaxing for the mind, body, and soul. Therapies are offered in the Resource Centre for bereaved clients, those living with a life limiting illness and their caregivers. It is also offered in the residence rooms for those who are living in the residential hospice at the end of life

The following therapies are offered by trained volunteers:

  • Reiki – A Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. A treatment feels like a wonderful flowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and well being.
  • Massage – Registered massage therapists provide relaxation massage by using Swedish techniques consisting of long smooth rhythmic strokes and small circular movements which provide stress relief, improved circulation, decreased muscle/joint pain and provide an overall sense of well being.
  • Therapeutic Touch – Therapeutic Touch is a holistic, evidence-based therapy that incorporates the intentional and compassionate use of universal energy to promote balance and well-being. Therapeutic Touch practitioners are educated to modify a person’s energy field when disease or illness obstructs or depletes their flow of energy. The treatment restores order and harmony to the client’s field. Based on the belief that the body can heal itself. Therapeutic Touch is a method of helping a person to mobilize their own natural healing abilities.
  • Reflexology – Reflexology therapy is a natural therapeutic method derived from the study of the reflexes and based on the principle that there are reflexes in the body that map to other parts, glands, and organs of the body. Through the application of pressure on these reflexes in either the hands or feet, this therapy can relieve tension, provide relaxation, improve circulation and support the body’s efforts to function optimally.


Our Complementary Therapies are currently on hold.

Public Education

We aim to help build an empowered community through education on illness, end of life, death, grief and bereavement.  Through public education we hope to build capacity and reinforce the support systems for community members, decrease stigma, reduce death and grief phobia, and advocate for the recognition of dying, death, and bereavement as normal and fundamental aspects of the human experience.

Community Presentations - Staff will provide public education on the topics of end of life care, death, dying, grief and bereavement to the Sarnia-Lambton Community. The program is flexible to meet the needs of those in the community.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Professional development for those working with grieving children/youth
  • Consultation to other professionals in the community working with grieving individuals.
  • Presentations in classrooms from elementary schools (How to support a grieving friend) to Post- secondary classrooms (“Understanding Grief and Bereavement”)
  • Support to staff in other workplaces who are caring for someone who is receiving Palliative Care or who are experiencing grief in the workplace.
  • Education on Grief and Bereavement to religious communities.

Information Sessions - Educational presentations are held at the Resource Centre location. These presentations can be delivered by hospice staff or guest speakers. The information sessions are geared towards those looking for more information on the topic or practical support.

Information sessions topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Taxes and Estates After a Death
  • Coping Through the Holidays
  • How to Support a Grieving Child
  • Advanced Care Planning
  • Grief Dreams

Lending Library The library contains books that can be checked out for one (1) month at no cost. Books are related to caregiving, living with a life limiting illness, children’s grief, and grief and bereavement. The library is open to all community members. Please see below for listing of books that are available.

Click here to see our Public Education service