Children’s Grief Centre rebrand makes services more accessible in Calgary

What was once known as the Sage Centre is now called Children’s Grief Centre, as the rebrand officially launched in Calgary on Tuesday.

Hospice Calgary, which has been around for close to 30 years, is still going to operate this iteration of the support centre.

“The difference is that the name Hospice Calgary has kept people away,” said Nadine Gariépy-Fisk, director of Children’s Grief Centre.

The rebranded Children’s Grief Centre launched in Calgary on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

She explained that people used be told to call Hospice Calgary, which would be incongruent with their experience.

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“When you’ve had a suicide in your family or a motor vehicle accident, you don’t think of calling a hospice,” Gariépy-Fisk said. “So calling it the Children’s Grief Centre, it actually says what we do. This is going to make it accessible for many families who are needing these services. It’s hard when you’re grieving. It’s hard to know where to be and where you’re going to find that support.”

The name is about making it obvious what the centre does: supporting kids and teens as they grieve the loss of anyone close to them.

“I think that people are realizing that not only is that an accessible service; it’s a centre of excellence in children’s grief — not only in Calgary, in Alberta and nationally,” Gariépy-Fisk said. “Our name is going to help with that.”

The centre offers individual and family counselling, group programs, peer-to-peer connection, and phone and online support. The centre hopes to renovate its facility to help more families and to add text and chat support to better connect with kids.

Last year, more than 2,000 children, teens and adults received support through individual and family counselling and group programs, according to the centre.

The rebranded Children’s Grief Centre launched in Calgary on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

The rebranded Children’s Grief Centre launched in Calgary on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

The rebranded Children’s Grief Centre launched in Calgary on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.

‘You’re not alone’

Michael Finkle said he developed some “self-destructive habits” after his dad died of prostate cancer in May 2018.

He has been coming to the centre once a week since the beginning of April.

Those self-destructive habits — out the window,” he said. “[I’m] back in school, planning for university and my family has not been this close since my father passed away.”

Michael Finkle, Jane Finkle, Patricia Finkle and Mitchell Finkle on June 18, 2019.

Finkle said he felt alone in dealing with his loss until he found this program.

“I honestly thought, ‘There’s no one else who knows what I’m going through.’ Came here. There’s hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kids all over Calgary that are going through the exact same thing I am. I had no idea,” he said.

“I came here, I was offered the chance to go to teen help groups: 15 or 16 teenagers all in a room all going through the exact same experience. That right there tells you you’re not alone. The people here want to help you in any possible way. Finding out that there [are] other kids that are going through the exact same thing you are, it really makes you realize, ‘I’m not alone. I’m going to be OK. I can deal with this.’”

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