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Patient and family resources
Patient and family resources

After death options for grieving families

Legacy Creation after Your Child Has Died

  • A hand-made memory box: there are many organizations and artists who create hand-made memory boxes. The Grief Support Coordinators know of some organizations, but if you know of others, please let us know.
  • Donations (monetary, volunteering or gifts) to a charity of choice.
  • Having a fundraising event to encourage community to support a charity​ (see SickKids Foundation if you want to work with them on fundraising).
  • Creating a memento space- a cabinet, a shelf or another safe place where legacy created earlier can be placed.
  • Quilt/pillow- made with clothes and blankets of the loved one- contact your local quilters guild to see if anyone is willing to work with family to do this, or they may have a family member who quilts who could make it with love (http://www.generations-quilt-patterns.com/ontario-quilt.html). A hand-crafted teddy bear can also be created out of clothing as a memory item. We have some names of local quilters in the area for parents who want to try to have this done.  There is likely a cost for this option- grief.support@sickkids.ca
  • Artful Ashes- This piece of art takes a small amount of cremated remains and creates a beautiful orb or heart to remember a loved person or pet www.artfulashes.com


How to Remember Your Child on their Birthday

The Pathways Grief Support Program sends first birthday remembrance cards to our grieving families and are getting thankful feedback from parents who have shared their thoughts with us.

"Anniversaries of your child’s birthday can be a time of anxiety and sadness for those who have lost a child. The images of birthday celebrations may leave you feeling alone and isolated. While the world around you seems to rejoice, how can you manage the pain and navigate this incredibly difficult time? Try to acknowledge that your child’s birthday may be a very difficult time for you. Together, as a family, create new birthday traditions. If you have other children, ask them what they would like to do. Then, as a family, decide the best way to spend this day.

Look for ways to include the memory of your loved one. Here is a selection of ideas which you may find helpful:  

  • Make a card or purchase a special gift appropriate for the age your child should have been and donate to someone in need (such as a children’s charity or the Children’s Aid).
  • Spread kindness and perform a random act of kindness in honour and memory of your loved one. This beautiful movement has helped thousands of families to heal.
  • Write a poem to your child.
  • Make a donation to a charity that is meaningful to you and your child.
  • Giving something of yourself to others can be healing during this difficult time. Volunteering your time to help others can be a beautiful way to honour your child’s memory.
  • Plant a tree or special plant.

Look for ways to honour your child throughout the year. Many families visit their child’s final resting place on special occasions such as the anniversary of the child’s birth and death and special holidays. Parents find a sense of peace knowing that their child is always with them in spirit. Give yourself permission to feel your heartache. Your memories of your child will help you cope.

We encourage you to share your ideas with us at grief.support@sickkids.ca


The Grief Support Program has many relationships with programs and resources in the community (ie. Support Groups, Funeral Planning etc.). Families can be referred to programs in their community by contacting one of the Grief Support Coordinators.

If you are looking for appropriate reading materials as a grieving person- please visit  Robert's Press- a Canadian bereavement resource organization, based in St. Catherine's. They will mail out resources purchased through them anywhere in the country and are accessible for community education.

Family Events

PACT Family Days are hosted by trained professionals and volunteers, and are opportunities for bereaved families to meet one another, learn about community resources, participate in grief exercises with their children, and celebrate their deceased child. Past events have included picnics, activity afternoons and candle lighting ceremonies. PACT held it's third Hospital-wide Candle Lighting Service in November and it was a very successful event. 

  • Coffee Klatches- we will continue to host Coffee Klatches in downtown Toronto every other month for grieving parents. Please contact: grief.support@sickkids.ca for details.  Please register so that we can ensure enough coffee and treats. If using telephone, please call 416-813-6782 and leave a message. Our next event will be September 12th, 2018. 
  • 2018 Fall Family Event: Grieving as a Family- How do Extended Family Members Experience their own grief while supporting grieving parents? This session will be accessible for all members of the family and will have space for siblings to keep busy under volunteer supervision. DATE: October 20, 2018 in the afternoon.  Please email grief.support@sickkids.ca for more information. 
  • PACT Family Picnic- Our 2019 Picnic will be booked in January- keep watching for more information.
  • 2018- Our 4th Annual Candle Lighting Service- will be held on Saturday, November 24th. Please contact grief.support@sickkids.ca for details about future events.

Unit Based Memorial Services

Several inpatient units within the hospital host memorial services each year. This is a time to reconnect with staff who cared for your child, and to honour your child’s memory. Units who have held these services in the past are: Haematology/Oncology, Cardiology, Paediatric Medicine and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. 

Haematology/Oncology Program: was held on April 15, 2018. Details will be coming in the future.  Please contact grief.support@sickkids.ca for more information. 

Paediatric Medicine (7 B, C and D): will be held on April 17, 2019. Please contact lori.ives-baine@sickkids.ca for more information (416-813-6782).

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit:: will be held on May 11, 2018. Please contact lori.ives-baine@sickkids.ca for more information (416-813-6782).

Cardiology Program (CCCU and 4D): will be held on March 2, 2019. Please contact lori.ives-baine@sickkids.ca for more information (416-813-6782).