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become a volunteer GRIEF facilitator


Ever wanted to give back to your community in a meaningful and enriching way? Now is your chance. Volunteers are a vital part of Distress Centres. Every year, volunteers contribute more than 100,000 hours to our 24-hour distress and crisis lines, providing immediate access to help and support.

Under the supervision of professional staff, all volunteers are carefully screened and fully trained prior to taking calls or working with callers, program participants or survivors of loss. Volunteers also receive ongoing professional support and in-service education sessions. Experienced volunteers learn many life and communication skills which enable them to function more effectively in other aspects of their lives.

Our volunteer grief facilitators consist of survivors of loss and non-survivors of loss who receive extensive screening and training. Those with the experience of suicide and/or homicide loss are now at a point where they can give support back to other survivors. Those without the experience of suicide and/or homicide loss bring a rich and diverse background in a variety of social support environments.

We offer an adult-oriented support service for those who have experienced a death by suicide and/or homicide. Our volunteers create a semi-structured, safe place in which survivors can identify, explore and clarify their thoughts and feelings. By helping individuals define their situations and acknowledge their emotions, the support process leads survivors to a consideration of what normal grieving is under these circumstances, the meaning of the death, and a sense of how they can manage.

Potential volunteers will be subject to an intensive screening and training process prior to being accepted into the program.

Please note that Survivor of Loss Support Program volunteer training happens twice a year, in the spring and the fall.

What we're about

The Survivor of Loss Support Program provides grief support to survivors: individuals, families and friends impacted by a suicide and/or homicide. 

  • We provide both an individualized, face-to-face format and a group format.

  • Support is offered day or evening at one of our three offices: downtown, North York and Scarborough.

  • Philosophy: Each person's grief is unique. We support the survivor from the place that he/she is at. We help to identify and enhance the survivor's own abilities and strengths.

  • We embrace diversity.

What would you be doing?

  • As volunteers, you will play a key role in providing individualized, face-to-face grief support to survivors of loss.

  • Volunteers work in teams of two. The teams are comprised of a survivor peer--someone who has been impacted by suicide or homicide--and a non-survivor (someone who has not experienced this kind of loss).

  • The volunteer team will meet with the same individual or family for eight sessions, each of which lasts between one and two hours.

  • Volunteers will provide regular updates about session scheduling and content to program supervisors.

What experiences & qualities are we looking for?

Meaningful life experience:

  • We welcome applications from survivors--those of you who have first-hand experience with suicide or homicide.

Direct support experience:

  • Those without first-hand experience with suicide or homicide would have a background—at least one year of experience-- directly supporting others who are coping with significant life and emotional situations.

Personal qualities:

  • A good face-to-face presence—a warm and engaging personality, superior listening skills and an ability to convey empathy.

  • Emotional resilience, stability and maturity.

  • An ability to accommodate a regular and consistent meeting schedule.

  • Openness to feedback.

  • Good teamwork skills.

  • Willingness and ability to work with individuals of diverse backgrounds and beliefs.

What will be expected of you

  • Fill out an application below

  • Provide two references, including one that is professional or volunteer-related.

  • Police check, including vulnerable sector screening.

  • A $75 fee to offset the costs of training & training materials

  • Successful completion of the training program.

  • Working within the Survivor of Loss Support Program policies and procedures guidelines.

  • Maintaining confidentiality about your work in the Survivor Support Program.

  • Participation in ongoing training.

  • Note: Vulnerable sector involvement or a criminal record will not necessarily preclude a volunteer from their role in the Survivor Support of Loss Program. Decisions will be made on an individual basis. All information collected will remain confidential.

Survivor of Loss Support Program volunteer training happens twice a year, in the Sprint and the Fall.