My brother passed away in 2009; he was my best friend and losing him was devastating. After his passing, I made some changes in my life and began pursuing further education and a career in psychology.

Gradually, as my intense grief eased, I realized I had the energy, compassion, and drive to help others with their mental health and wellbeing. I was no longer emotionally burnt out or depleted from my grief. 

In early 2019, I was looking for peer support volunteer opportunities because I had some prior experience providing peer support in a mental health organization, and I felt it was one of the most rewarding things I’d ever done.

I saw the listing for Bereaved Families of Ontario Southwest peer support volunteer opportunities, and I was drawn to it.

As I considered applying, I questioned my ability to ‘handle it’ because the work could evoke a lot of emotions, but I reminded myself that I am resilient and strong; I’d already been through the worst thing that could happen my life (losing my brother).

I believed the position was an amazing opportunity to do something useful with my lived experience with grief, so I decided to go for it. 

When I went for my interview with the organization, I felt welcomed, and we discussed my interest in providing peer support. I talked about my experience with adult sibling loss, and my wish to provide support for that type of loss.

My brother and I were both adults when he passed away. In my own grief journey, I noticed the lack of support and resources for adult sibling loss, so it has been very important to me that I offer support to other adults who are grieving their siblings.

Since the pandemic began in 2020, I’ve had the opportunity to co-facilitate the virtual Adult Sibling Loss grief support group, even after moving to a different city for graduate school.

I always enjoy the group meetings, as we all discuss and share experiences.

I feel a sense of connection with others during the meetings, and although I am a facilitator, there is a reciprocal relationship; we are all peers, and we all learn from each other.

We are side by side as we navigate grief.  

If you’re thinking about connecting with Bereaved Families, and feel that sharing your experience with grief and loss might help others in their journey, I encourage you to give it a try – you probably have more to offer than you know!