Clergy Support Memorial Church

A Church Without Walls

Sun shining through the clouds

Delivering hope and care to those experiencing grief

By Rev Kathi Kelly

At some time in our lives, we will grieve the loss of a loved one. Sad, yet true, and many times we are not prepared with the coping skills we will need to weather the changes that this loss ensues. For this reason, Seasons Centre for Grieving Children in Barrie was founded to serve primarily children and their families. During its 25 years in the community, Seasons has provided peer support in the form of groups for children, teens, young adults, and caregivers. As a community service, Seasons also debriefs and defuses loss issues in schools, institutions, and agencies. Volunteers and trained professionals provide a safe place, listening ears and hopefulness every day to children who are unable to find expression for the disruption in their lives. They heal through play, activities and with the understanding of other children who share their experience.

For 24 years I have been involved with Seasons in many capacities — staff, volunteer, public advocate, and educator. It has been a gift in my life to be of service with other devoted people who realize the value in supporting young people in a difficult time and offering them healthy coping skills that will serve them well their whole lives. It is an investment in our future too. We know sadly that crime, self harm, and misery befall young people who don’t get care in times of need. How can we not want to be involved in work so rewarding?

Seasons is a non-profit agency relying on third party events, donations, and generosity. It is the only such facility in all of Canada, modelled after Dougie Centre in Baltimore. There should be a Seasons everywhere.

Monies are tight during this time with donations down. I’m thankful for the micro-grant that CSMC has provided.

Currently phone and virtual support is how Seasons staff is doing their work. It’s not perfect for peer support and kids are tired from online school at the end of the day, but it is alive and expanding. Kids and families dealing with loss and the impact of COVID-19 have few opportunities to express their grief. Ironically, with Zoom, Seasons has realized the opportunity to care for kids too far away to attend groups. It is not easy for a family to commit to travelling any distance in this part of the country during the winter. So, when the virus is behind us, the opportunity to access support virtually will stay on.

Here are some of the groups offered for ages 2-17: Loss to suicide / Loss to murder / Loss of a parent, sibling or friend / Loss to drug addiction

For parents: Empty arms for child loss / Peer support for suddenly single parents

There is also a young adult group.

Not bad, for an agency with four full time staff. Volunteers are often community professionals, university students or kids who have been served well by Seasons and come back to give back.

The hands-on work is life-giving. It is rewarding, challenging, creative, sad, and funny. The 24 years I have been involved have been a gift in my life. I am 70 years old and this is the one opportunity I have to be with children. They keep me real and engaged. I could be their great grandmother, as they remind me. But my unconditional love and commitment are appreciated always. They keep me young at heart and I learn things that grow me.

I hope that in some way, you find the opportunity to take the best of you to a place that speaks to your heart. Thanks again to CSMC for the grant to keep an amazing charity afloat this year.

The pictures are of the house where Seasons lives. Children grieve through play and each room gives them another opportunity for expression. Please refer to the website for more info.