Bereavement Experience & Supports in BC (2021-23)

The Project

In 2021, the BC Centre for Palliative Care undertook an initiative that aims to improve the grief and bereavement experience for all British Columbians.

Leveraging a human-centred design approach, the BC Centre for Palliative Care brought together key stakeholders including individuals who had experienced the death of someone they cared about, grief and bereavement service providers, researchers, community leaders, and policy decision-makers to a roundtable discussion focusing on the current state of bereavement experiences and supports in B.C.

The purpose of the roundtable is to co-create a province-wide, evidence-informed, collaborative action plan toward accessible, appropriate, and equitable grief and bereavement supports for all British Columbians.

The provincial roundtable discussion, which was held in November 2022, was guided by information gathered through primary and secondary research activities conducted by the BCCPC’s research team. Following the roundtable event, the participants completed an online prioritization survey through which they identified the most important actions in the recommended plan that knowledge users should focus on in the next three years (2024-2026).

The Need

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on all aspects of life, including death and grieving. The magnitude of grief and bereavement related to the pandemic has been immense. Research by Verdery et al. (2020) estimated that for every COVID-19 death (which exceeded 50,000 in Canada), nine close relatives are directly affected by the loss. As we know, friends, work colleagues, and frontline workers among others all grieve too after a loss, and this number is probably much higher. In BC, ​COVID-19 was the 7th leading cause of death in 2021 and 6th leading cause in 2022. The pandemic restrictions resulted in changes to the coping mechanisms available to those grieving, their access to grief and bereavement support, and the complexity of their grief experience.

Partners

  • Victoria Hospice
  • Lumara Grief & Bereavement Care Society
  • BC Bereavement Helpline
  • Canadian Virtual Hospice
  • Public Partners: D’Arcy Wingrove & Annette Berndt

Definitions

Bereaved means suffering from being deprived of someone you care about because of their death.

Bereavement is the condition of being bereaved, defined as the period of time following a death, during which a person experiences grief and mourning.

Grief includes a wide variety of emotional, behavioural, social and spiritual responses to loss (including losses other than through death. e.g., loss of partner due to divorce, loss of employment).

Project Team

  • Dr. Eman Hassan, Project Director
  • Joshua Black, PhD. Project Manager
  • Anica Butters
  • Jody Monk
  • Nicolas Starkes
  • Rachel Carter, PhD
  • Ronald Arjadi
  • Kathleen Yue
  • Betty Andersen
  • Elizabeth Causton
  • Pam Martin
  • Pam Warkentin
  • Tina Lowery
  • Jas Cheema
  • Lesley Johnston
  • Lisa Clement
  • Simon Anderson

Advisory Committee

  • Marney Thompson — Victoria Hospice
  • Heather Mohan, PhD — Lumara Grief & Bereavement Care Society
  • Jessica Lowe — BC Bereavement Helpline
  • Shelly Cory — Canadian Virtual Hospice
  • D’Arcy Wingrove — Public Partner
  • Annette Berndt — Public Partner

Research Findings

Presentations

  1. Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Conference – October 22, 2021 – title: Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on grief and bereavement in BC: a province-wide current state analysis– Presenters: Anica Butters & Joshua Black, PhD
  2. Quality Forum 2022 – June 1 & 2, 2022 – title: Supporting people experiencing bereavement in British Columbia – A provincial evidence-informed approach– poster presentation – Presenter: Joshua Black, PhD
  3. 33rd Annual Palliative Education & Research Day – October 24, 2022 – Insights into the Bereavement Experience and Access to Support Services in British Columbia in the Post COVID-19 Era – poster presentation – Presenter: Joshua Black, PhD
  4. Quality Forum 2023 – June 6-8, 2022 – title: Frontline Perspectives Considering the Dual Experience of Homelessness and Bereavement – Poster – Authors: Joshua Black PhD and Eman Hassan MD.MPH.
  5. Monk, J., & Black, J. (February 3, 2022). A mixed methods study to identify evidence-informed solutions for improving the grief experience among those homeless and vulnerably housed in BC. A virtual talk was given to the Pan-Canadian Palliative Care Research Collaborative.
  6. Black, J., & Hassan, E. (May 30, 2022). The Impact of COVID-19 on Bereavement in BC: A Province-Wide Current State Analysis. A virtual talk was given for Health Canada.
  7. Monk, J., & Black, J. (October 18, 2022). Updates on bereavement studies focusing on individuals who are experiencing homelessness and vulnerable housing in BC (frontline survey and interviews with people with lived experience). Virtual talk given to the Pan-Canadian Palliative Care Research Collaborative.
  8. Monk, J., Black, J., & Hassan, E. (November 16, 2022). A mixed methods study: An evidence-informed approach to supporting bereavement in the context of homelessness. A virtual talk was given to Health Excellence Canada.
  9. Black, J. (February 7, 2023). Improving the bereavement experience among people who are experiencing homelessness in BC. Virtual talk was given to the Pan-Canadian Palliative Care Research Collaborative.
  10. Black, J. (May 7, 2023). How to best support bereaved people in the post-COVID-19 era? Provincial Evidence-informed Recommendations by Stakeholders in British Columbia. The virtual talk was given at the Pan-Canadian Palliative Care Research Collaborative Semi-Annual Meeting.
  11. Black J. (June 27, 2023). Impact of COVID-19 on Bereavement in BC. A virtual talk was given to ECHO.

For more information, please contact

Joshua Black at jblack@bc-cpc.ca

To stay up-to-date on this work, subscribe to our newsletter, CentrePoint.

The provincial roundtable on bereavement was funded by Michael Smith Health Research BC through the Convening and Collaborating Award Program (2021).

Resources on Grief and Bereavement 

If you are interested in increasing your knowledge about grief and bereavement, the Canadian Virtual Hospice (virtualhospice.ca) and Canadian Alliance for Children’s Grief (grievingchildrencanada.org) have excellent information and support for both individuals and professionals. Additionally, the Canadian Virtual Hospice has specific grief websites for adults, kids, and youth:

Mygrief.ca      |   Kidsgrief.ca      |  Youthgrief.ca

If you need to speak to someone to direct you to helpful bereavement resources (e.g., service providers and informational supports) in British Columbia (Canada), the BC Bereavement Helpline provides this service. Additionally, they offer a free service that provides a compassionate ear to the bereaved. Here is their contact information:

Helpline: 604-738-9950    |    Toll-Free: 1-877-779-2223  |   Website: https://bcbh.ca

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