Support for Families

Donors and their families are very special people. They have given an extraordinary gift. At a most difficult time, a decision was made to give other individuals the opportunity for a longer and better quality of life. Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) offers a Donor Family Support program to donor families, providing the offer of continued support, the opportunity to communicate anonymously with recipients and recognition for their courage, compassion and generosity.

Where our relationship
with donor families starts...

The relationship between the TGLN Family Services team and donor families begins when consent to donation is given. It includes personal support, the provision of information, an invitation to a Celebration of Life event and other supportive resources. Our Donor Family Support program continues over 12 months following donation. Should a family wish, their relationship with TGLN may continue beyond this time, when opportunities to volunteer or assist in other ways are available.
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Stories of hope

Every donor family and recipient has a unique story to tell, and a unique experience to share. We invite you to take a moment to read and share their journeys. It may even inspire you to share how donation or transplantation changed your life or that of your family. Your stories are not only inspirational, but also have the power to heal, so please consider contributing. It’s worth it.

Do you have a story you want to share? Contact Us!
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 1 Story of Hope
Donor Mom Quilt Patch 2 Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 2 Amanda Story of Hope
Jaida Fairman Story of Hope
Lori Kraemer Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch 2 liver recip
Donor Family Quilt Patch 6 Story of Hope
Mohan Bissoondial Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 4 Pam Story of Hope
Carol Dubeau Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 5 Heather Story of Hope
Dennis Segatto Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch 3 Story of Hope
Rizwana Ramzanali Story of Hope
Don Kraemer Story of Hope
Dale Shippam Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch man 1 Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch Rainbow Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 1 Story of Hope
Donor Mom Quilt Patch 2 Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 2 Amanda Story of Hope
Jaida Fairman Story of Hope
Lori Kraemer Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch 2 liver recip
Donor Family Quilt Patch 6 Story of Hope
Mohan Bissoondial Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 4 Pam Story of Hope
Carol Dubeau Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch lady 5 Heather Story of Hope
Dennis Segatto Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch 3 Story of Hope
Rizwana Ramzanali Story of Hope
Don Kraemer Story of Hope
Dale Shippam Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch man 1 Story of Hope
Donor Family Quilt Patch Rainbow Story of Hope
<< More
More >>

Understanding Grief

As an organ and/or tissue donor family member there is no way to lessen or quicken the grieving process. Recovery from trauma and sadness is possible, but it takes time. You alone will set your own pace.

We hope the information included below will help answer some of your questions. The articles have been written by noted author, educator and grief counselor, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, Founder and Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition.

Dr. Wolfelt Background

Dr. Wolfelt is known across North America for his inspirational teaching gifts. He is the Founder and Director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition. Dr. Wolfelt presents numerous educational workshops each year for hospices, hospitals, schools, universities, funeral homes, community groups, and a variety of other organizations. He is best known for his model of ‘companioning’ versus ‘treating’ and is committed to helping people mourn well so they can live well and love well.

The first two articles are intended to provide you with a measure of comfort as you journey through your grief.

The Journey Through Grief

The Mourner's Bill of Rights

Grief Recovery

The following includes support information covering: Helping yourself with grief; Helping others with grief; For and about grieving children and teenagers; Help for hospices and other caregivers; Funerals, memorials, cremations and related topics; and Support for funeral directors.

Section 1: Helping Yourself with Grief

Section 2: Helping Others with Grief

Section 3: For and About Grieving Children and Teenagers

Section 4: For Hospices and Other Caregivers

Section 5: Funerals, Memorials, Cremation and Related Topics

Section 6: For Funeral Directors

Helping Children Understand Death

Honestly, Simply, Lovingly...

Just as a tree must be exposed to rain, snow and wind, children must face the unfortunate aspects of life. Each child will react differently to death. However, most children will want to share in the experience.

  • Age 2-4

    This age has little understanding of death. It should be explained in simple, loving terms.

  • Age 5-7

    Children 5-7 feel loss, but loss needs to be explained. Allow them to attend the funeral home or place of service. Support them as they share their thoughts and emotions.

  • Age 8-10

    At this age, children can grasp life’s mysteries. They will remember the experience vividly. Allow them to attend a service and to express their emotions.

  • Age 11-12

    Many children at this age understand death. If they want to help, let them participate in the funeral arrangements. This allows them to resolve their own feelings of loss.







Talking with teenagers about death

Teenagers will often have more intense grief than any other age group and may not show it.

Age 13-16

Teenagers can experience more intense grief than other age groups. They may not show it to other adults but understand death as a fact of life and often want to talk. Encourage their friends to share in their grief and invite them to attend a service or gathering.

Teenagers can also be intensely private and non-communicative which makes it difficult for them to reach out. Watch for indicators of sorrow like changes in sleeping, eating, study, social behaviour or work habits. Provide frequent invitations to talk in terms and words that are familiar to them.

Memorial Quilt 

Donor families can honour their loved ones by creating a personalized quilt patch. Every square has its own unique story. Some patches have photos included; others have symbols of favourite hobbies, careers, heritage and faith.

Every patch will have its own place in the Trillium Gift of Life Network’s Donor Memorial Quilt. Once created, this new quilt will travel across the province of Ontario and be displayed at each Celebration of Life event. Quilt squares can be contributed at any time and we invite you and your family to create your own square to commemorate your loved one.

Are you curious? Read Stories of Hope

Submitted a Square?

If you are a family that has submitted a quilt square, you are welcome to commemorate that square with a tribute about the individual being honoured or with background information about the design of the square. Please contact TGLN Donor Family Services for more information.

The Donor Quilt Brochure provides instructions and directions for designing a quilt square. To see an example of what a future Donor Memorial Quilt might look like, please refer to Ontario’s London Health Sciences Centre’s webpage.

Quilt

Thank you note

Thinking of writing
a letter to your loved
one’s recipient?

The decision to write to transplant recipients is a personal one. Sharing information about your loved one may help in the grieving process. The choice to write or not, is yours to make. If you prefer, you may choose to send a card during a special holiday or a ‘thinking of you’ card instead of a letter.

If you decide to write, here are some guidelines to help you.


 

Gift of Life metal pin

A Celebration of Life

TGLN wants to be sure that every family who decides to donate their loved ones’ organs or tissue is recognized and honoured.

In their time of sorrow, these families have opened their hearts to give the gift of life to another family. While it is impossible to take away the pain of the loss, TGLN looks for ways to help families heal.

Each year A Celebration of Life event is held to acknowledge and celebrate the gift of donation. These events are hosted by TGLN and are held in Toronto, Ottawa, London and Hamilton. Additional ceremonies are also held every few years in Windsor, Thunder Bay, Kingston and Sudbury. Donor families are invited to share in these celebration events within 18 months after their donation.

If you would like to receive more information regarding a Celebration of Life event in your area or about additional support, please contact TGLN Donor Family Services.

The importance of culture and religion

Culture and religion play a significant role in end-of-life experiences, including how people respond to illness, how grief is demonstrated, what rituals are important at death and which members of the family are present.

Most religious groups support organ donation and/or respect the individual's choice. Beliefs about tissue donation vary as some groups may consider tissue donation life enhancing, separating it from organ donation which saves lives.

If you have specific questions about your faith, speak to your religious leader. In the meantime, here are some widely held perspectives:

Additional Information

Donor Family Support Material

Trillium Gift of Life Network has developed a package of support materials as part of our continuing Family Services and Aftercare Program.

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Understanding Neurological Death

This booklet is designed to assist in answering the questions that often arise when we are confronted with terms like "neurological death" or "brain death."

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Organ and Tissue Donation. Giving the Gift of Life.

In this booklet, Trillium Gift of Life Network seeks to provide the information you may need to help you in your understanding about organ and tissue donation and the ways in which you can provide the Gift of Life to those waiting for a transplant.

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Writing to Your Donor Family

This brochure aims at assisting transplant recipients in writing to their donor family. Inside are tips and suggestions on how to start and close your letter. Also, you can find sample phrases if you find yourself unable to find the words to express yourself.

Have you changed your address?

Moved? Changed your phone number or email address? Please update our database by giving us your new information.



Provide Your Feedback

Trillium Gift of Life (TGLN) hopes the resources and support you receive helps you to heal. We rely on families to provide us with feedback on our services so that we can continue to improve and provide the best possible support. It is especially helpful for us to hear back from families.

Please take a few minutes to complete the attached survey. Be assured that this information will be kept confidential.

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