BON Newsletter - 2016 BON Conference Review
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What's Happening Inside the BONewsletter!
Message from the Chair
Message from the Vice Chair
BON Conference 2016 - Conference Committee Report
A Message from this Years John D. Morgan Memorial Conference Scholarship Winner
Many Thanks to Our Sponsors
Creative Expression
Some Life Lessons
Coping with Grief and Creating New Traditions

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter
Upcoming Events
About BON

Message from the Chair

Hello BON Membership,
The Bereavement Ontario Network is now into its twenty seventh year and like many twenty seven year olds needs to spread it wings and establish a strong presence in the world. To make this happen the BON Board has been focused on a strategic plan. We have a bit more work to do in this area so that we can be the strong and vibrant network for the benefit of the membership and the bereavement field. These are exciting times to be part of BON and the unlimited possibilities for growth of resources, partnerships and membership.

Here is the 2016/2017 Board which are already working hard to achieve growth; Susan McCoy (Chair), Monica de Couto Monni (Vice Chair), Grant Churcher (Treasurer), Cindy Elkerton (Past Chair), Sharon O’Donnell (Member-at-large), Maureen Pollard (Member-at-large) and Veronica Lowe (Member-at-large). The board is an enthusiastic and dedicated group of volunteers working as a team for BON but we are aware that we are only seven of a larger number and powerhouse – the team consists of ALL the membership.

As it is said, “T.E.A.M. stands for Together – Everyone – Achieves – More”, and how true a statement. Please reach out to the board with ideas for ways to grow and to support you which in turn benefits ALL. The Board will be meeting on Saturday December 10, 2016 and will report back to the membership. It is my goal as the Chair to make sure you are kept posted as to the ongoing work of the Board and events that impact BON and its membership.

I have been the BON Chair many years back and must say I am most honoured to have this role as we see Grief and Bereavement take on a valued presence like never before in society. Thank you for the opportunity.

Susan McCoy,                                                                                                              
BON Chair

Message from Vice Chair

Dear All,
Our Conference is approaching rapidly! I hope you have already registered for it. I am excited at the opportunity of meeting you during our AGM, and then for our Regional Representative meeting. It will be the first time meeting with most of you in person, what a treat and a thrill!

Thinking about the last months of work for BON, the highlight I have to share with you is definitely the BON Board Strategic Planning meetings that happened last February 20, April 02 and June 25. The result was a 20-page Report, with the findings and input of our Board. Phase I is now complete, and consisted of an extended SWOT analysis for BON. Based on the results of this analysis, Phase II consisted in the determination of the 5 top strategic priorities for BON. Phase II is almost complete and Phase III will follow shortly. Phase III consists in transforming Phases I and II into the draft of BON Strategic Plan 2017-2022. During Phase III, we will transform priority goals into an implementation plan. Priority goals will be broken down into implementation steps in BON Action Plan Chart. Each step will be implemented, evaluated and readjusted in a cycle of 5 years.

One top strategic priority is to invest in our website Directory – and we are already working on it – towards making it completely user friendly. Kelly Teigrob is already taking the first steps towards this goal. Another top priority is to strengthen ongoing communication and support between Regional Representatives and myself as your Co-Chair and liaison with the Board.

Today I want to personally invite and encourage each of you, BON Regional Representatives, to be with us at our face-to-face meeting during BON Conference. This will be the launch of our renewed efforts to establish great communication with BON Regional Representatives across Ontario.

I also want to personally invite each of you, our valued BON members, to be with us at our AGM! Looking forward to seeing you there!

Monica Do Coutto Monni, B.A Po. Sci., M Psych
BON Co-Chair

BON Conference 2016
Conference Committee Report

For the 26th year running BON has brought new and seasoned members together with guest speakers for three days of learning, sharing and rejuvenation.

The Pre-Conference day offered an opportunity for an exploration and deeper understanding of the determinants and processes of complicated grief.  Dr. Katherine Shear is a researcher, professor, head of the Centre for Complicated Grief at Columbia University and board member of ADEC.  She shared the findings of the centre’s research studies, and imparted an understanding of the tool for assessing and treating complicated grief in therapy.   

Most of the pre-conference day was dreary and rainy, but the skies cleared in time for folks to go for a walk and take in the changing leaves and fresh air on the conference grounds.  Then it was time to register for the main conference, pick up the conference bags and complimentary BON travel mug, and check into rooms.  After sharing a meal, the participants were treated to the first plenary, “I See Dead People” presented by Dr. Christopher Kerr.   As a medical doctor who became involved in hospice care early on in his career, Dr. Kerr came to recognize the importance of formally researching dreams at the end of life, and their impacts on the dying individual.  As his research continues, Dr.  Kerr hopes to explore as well the effects of the dreams for the family and friends of the dying, and repercussions for the bereavement process.   After the plenary, participants came together for drinks and an opportunity to socialize and network in the lodge-like setting of the grand lounge.

Friday was a full day.  Early risers were met with a beautiful sunrise, and had the opportunity to start their day with meditation lead by Susan McCoy.  Some chose instead to linger a little longer in bed or enjoy an extended breakfast and opportunity to network.  Then everyone gathered for a plenary by Dr. Katherine Arnup, who shared the findings of her comprehensively researched paper on the history of death and dying in Canada, trends in end of life care and bereavement practices, and predictions for the future of this important field based on the demographic changes.  Dr. Arnup also shared her recently written book, I Don’t Have Time For This, described as a compassionate guide to caring for our parent and caring for ourselves. 

Continuing on with the busy schedule of the day, participants attended two choices of workshops.  As are the interests and needs of the participants to BON conferences, the workshop topics this year were quite varied.  They included explorations in specific losses, legacy, self-awareness, self-care and resilience, as well as introducing newer techniques in end-of-life planning and grief support, including expressive arts and video journals by the bereaved.  As well, Canadian Virtual Hospice provided the group an update and overview of their website. 

The sunrise on the water at Geneva Park Saturday morning was bright orange-red, breathtaking.  On this last day of the conference, there was meditation for those who hadn’t stayed up too late socializing the night before.  Then off to more workshops.  The final plenary speaker, Valerie Spironello, shared her knowledge and experience on preventing compassion fatigue in her presentation, ‘I’d Rather Be Eating Gelato’.   Through her own experience of compassion fatigue and burnout as a social worker, Valerie has gained important insights and the goal to help other caring professionals to recognize the signs and build self-care strategies.  Thankfully, Valerie’s humorous and self-deprecating style allowed the participants to end the conference with laughter and encouragement. 

It was our goal that all participants take away new learning, and given the generally positive feedback in the evaluations, we feel that the conference was value added for many of you.  I am glad to share that starting this year, we will be posting power points/links from many of the workshops and plenaries on the member side of the BON website.   In this way, we hope to bring a little of the conference to our members who were unable to attend in person, and information about the workshops that participants missed because they could not be in several rooms at the same time!

In addition to the great learning and sharing of the workshops and plenaries, we listened to your feedback last year that opportunities for self-care and decompressing were an important part of your BON Conference and Retreat experience.  And so this year we made sure to have a couple of ways for self-care available.  Many of you signed up for a twenty minute massage with the RMT’s from Discover Wellness who joined us for Friday afternoon.   A number of adventurous participants gathered together before dinner and with maps in hand went to explore the trails which follow the water’s edge and meander through the maple forest of Geneva Park.  For those choosing not to venture outside, this year we offered a marketplace and poster area.  While the poster/marketplace was small in its first year we hope to encourage more BON members and others organizations to join and help us grow this important opportunity for networking and sharing information.  We were also so fortunate to once again have Mandala Book Shop.  As the  owner-operator, for many years Sue has packed her van full of books and driven from her bookstore in London Ontario to bring books on the topics of self-care and bereavement to the conference.  Many thanks Sue for all your effort toward making the conference special.

After dinner on Friday, members kindly stayed on for the BON AGM, which was conducted as expeditiously as possible, and board staffing changes were approved.  Then we moved on to the social part of the evening, which included food and drink, music and good company.  We enjoyed a fire in the grand fireplace in the Geneva great hall.  It was also a beautiful night for the BONfire out by the lake, where a drum circle was held and stories were told.   Some lucky people at the social evening went home with a gift basket they won in the raffle.  Many thanks to Susan McCoy for bringing many of the items and assembling the baskets.  BON’s board member Monica DoCoutto-Monni was the lucky winner of the 50 – 50 draw.  We are so very grateful to Monica who insisted on donating her winnings back to BON. 
This year’s recipient of the John D. Morgan student scholarship was awarded to Michelle Hamilton.  Her submission demonstrated a thorough and creative approach to exploring bereavement through the lifespan.   At the conference Michelle shared the book she had written, A Special Kind of Baby.   We welcome Michelle as an honorary member of BON for the coming year and hope that the conference was a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and leave with new friends.

 I would like to acknowledge the help and support that I received while organizing the conference over the past year.  First to my conference committee members, Colleen Bone and Josh Black.  Through their efforts, we were able to bring increased sponsorship, donations, and a broader reach to the end-of-life and post-secondary communities.  Colleen and Josh shared their unique perspectives and great ideas for expanding the offerings at the conference.  Jill Dombrowski and Josh Black joined me as the adjudicating committee for the Dr. John D Morgan Student Scholarship.   As well, I would like to thank the other members of the board for their input, ideas and their support during the conference.  Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank Kelly Tiegrob, BON’s administrative assistant.  Without Kelly’s time, support and knowledge, the conference could not have happened.  Her constant patience and positive disposition gave me strength. 

I have held the role of conference chair for the past two years.  This has been an incredible experience for me, and I am very thankful to BON for entrusting me with this responsibility. I hope that I have been worthy of the role.  I am glad to have received generally positive feedback from the participants and the speakers who made the journey to join us at Geneva Park the past two years.  However, I am also aware and must acknowledge that I have fallen short in my inability to significantly increase participation at the conference. I am excited to announce that we have had interest from members who are prepared to step forward to organize the 2017 conference.  With their exciting ideas and new energy I have no doubt that the BON conference will  meet the needs of our membership and gain appeal to end of life and bereavement professionals in the general public. I am stepping down as chair, but will gladly assist with planning the next conference.

I hope to cross paths and to share knowledge and camaraderie with many of you at the next BON conference.

Sharon O’Donnell
BON Conference Chair 2016

A Message From This Year’s Dr. John D Morgan Student Scholarship Winner

It was an honour to receive the Dr. John D. Morgan student scholarship this year. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with other like-minded professionals and hearing about all of the amazing ways people are supporting individuals and families across Ontario. The weekend was refreshing and encouraging to me both personally and professionally. I look forward to continuing to stay connected with BON. Thank you again for the opportunity to attend the conference. 

 Michelle Hamilton

Many Thanks To Our Sponsors

As a non-profit organization, BON relies upon the charitable contributions of our supporters to help make the conference possible. Financial and in-kind donations help make the conference enjoyable, educational and memorable for the participants who attend. 
This year we were so very pleased to receive the generous support of Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes as our title sponsor.  Many thanks to Colleen Bone of Giffen-Mack Scarborough Funeral home for bringing this sponsorship to BON.
Our conference bags were filled with goodies through the generous donations. Giffen-Mack Funeral Home (Dignity Memorial);  Newediuk Funeral Home; Canadian Virtual Hospice; Cindy Elkerton; Josh Black;  Heart House Hospice.
This year, instead of a silent auction, seven gift baskets full of sought after goodies were raffled.  Many thanks to Susan McCoy and her generous friends and acquaintances for their donated items toward the gift baskets. 
Many Thanks to our sponsors for their donations toward the 2016 BON Conference.
The BON Board

Creative Expression

Many of us go about our daily and weekly routines and don't take the time to stop and truly connect with others.  But sometimes, something magical happens and a spontaneous human connection occurs.  This year at BON I witnessed the creation of group artistic expression in the process, and a beautiful poem came out of this connection of spirit and creativity. 
Audrey is a dear, genuinely warm-hearted and uplifting woman and BON member who has traveled in years past all the way from the Yukon to participate in the BON Conference.  This year, due to health concerns she was unable to attend, and was missed by her BON friends.  However. During the workshop in expressive arts a group of participants who had not known Audrey personally but heard her story found themselves creating a collective piece of poetry which they realized was meant for Audrey.  They presented their creation at the closing of the conference, a fitting tribute to a wonderful woman.
~ Sharon O'Donnell

An Ode To Audrey
Last night I had a dream of a woman I did not know,
A dream of love and nightmares
A dream of joy and sorrow intertwined
I was scared for her.
We delved into the depths of our sorrow,
Still waters...and came out as beautiful changing perspectives
Morphing from darkness to light.
The air felt kind, then love expanded
A beacon of Grace.
Paws softly padding, tranquility and jeweled colours bloomed
We both laughed
And we gave all our gifts to the world, to the sun, to the moon, to the universal cosmos.

Some Life Lessons

This list of was compiled by the Participates in “Embracing Joy through Legacy Work – the Sharing Project”
October 14, 2016 BON Conference

Grab moments when they present themselves
Take advantage of time with those you love
Trust the process. Enjoy!
Life is short. Cherish your loved ones.
Balance in life is something to forever strive for. Keep it in mind.
It’s never too late to find yourself or your true calling.
Someone is thinking of you everyday even someone you don’t know but have crossed paths with.
We all touch more people than we realize.
Listen, listen, listen - there are always gems.
My perspective is not everyone’s.
Stop and BE.
To best honour those who have lost their lives, you must live yours fully with no apologies.
Love more, smile more, laugh more… Love more.
Kindness matters more than being rich or famous or right.
God is LOVE.
Take a moment to take a deep breath.
Thank God and see the love.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Doing something for yourself isn’t selfish.
Take the time to listen and wait before answering.
Downsize, simplify.
Practice gratitude for simple things.
Don’t buy into the marketing tricks.
Love those around you.
Don’t compare your ‘Chapter One’ to someone else’s ‘Chapter Twenty’
Enjoy the journey!

Coping with Grief and Creating New Traditions

When I was thirteen years old my uncle died on Christmas morning. I remember my mom getting the phone call that her brother had died. We were expecting it. Not that day. I remember still opening presents because my mom said that is what he would have wanted. And then we began our three hour drive to Mississauga for the funeral.

That is by far the strangest Christmas I can remember and it took many, many years for it to feel “normal” again. There is not a Christmas that I don’t think of Uncle Denis and that our family does not talk about him with love. The holidays are supposed to be fun, filled with family, food and happiness. But it is not always so.

 From my own experience and from my decade-long career as a Funeral Director in Toronto, I now facilitate a Bereavement Yoga Program called Hearts Healing. Today I offer you a few tips to help you this holiday season. Om. Peace.


Seems so simple right? The truth is that most of us forget to or have never focused on our breathing, but taking long deep breaths can actually change your brain’s chemistry. When we breathe shallow quick breaths, this sends a single to our brain to activate the “flight or fight” response which in turn makes us more anxious, feeling less patient with ourselves and others, making us feel trapped or simply overwhelmed.

For full article, click here.

Jen Trussell

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter!

Thanks to our crack team, Monica and Maureen, BON is becoming more active on social media.   Many photos from the conference have been posted on Facebook.   If you took photos at the conference, we encourage you to share them with others on our Facebook site.  
One of the goals of the BON board is to create a greater awareness of the conference to the wider public.  If your experience at the conference was positive, we would love your endorsement via the BON social media.  Please share any important learning and networking that you experienced as a result of attending the BON Conference this year. 

Check out the updated BON Regions & Regional Representative List

Upcoming Events

Kids Healing Heart,
Dates: Nov. 2-Dec. 7,
Times: 6:15- 7:30 pm
Contact: Hearth Place

2016 Annual Community Celebration of Life,
Date: Sun. Dec. 4, 2016,
Time: 2:00 pm
Location: WC Town Funeral Home,
Host/Contact: Susan McCoy, WC Town Funeral Home, 905-668-3410

Tree of Remembrance,
Date: Pickering, Dec. 13, 7-9 pm,
Date: Whitby, Dec. 14, 2-4 pm,
Date: Oshawa Dec. 15, 7-9 pm.
Host/Contact: Durham Hospice

Coping with the Holidays and other Family Traditions.
Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Location: Hospice Niagara, 403 Ontario Street, St. Catharines, ON L2N 1L5
Host/Contact: Melissa Penner
Details: Please see poster attached.

5 Day Certificate Program in Children's Grief and Bereavement - Condensed
Date: May 2017 (dates below)
Host: The Hincks-Dellcrest Centre 
Register: For more information or to register please visit here
Details: Please note that all 5 modules can be taken to obtain the certificate, or single modules can be attended as free-standing workshops.
  • MODULE 1: Supporting Children and Youth Facing the Dying of Someone Close to Them (Andrea Warnick - May 8, 2017)
  • MODULE 2: When Death Darkens the Door: Supporting Bereaved Children and Youth (Andrea Warnick - May 9, 2017)
  • MODULE 3: Supporting Grieving Children and Families Using Mindfulness and Compassion (Andrea Warnick & Andrew Blake - May 10, 2017)
  • MODULE 4: When Grief Gets More Complicated (Andrea Warnick and Liana Lowenstein - May 11, 2017)
  • MODULE 5: Dancing in the Darkness: Creative Approaches to Working with Grieving Children and Youth (Andrea Warnick and Lisa Toye - May 12, 2017)

About BON

Our Mission

Bereavement Ontario Network is a network of individuals, groups, and organizations which, through the exchange of ideas, resources, and energy, is dedicated to helping the bereaved and the dying.


Bereavement Ontario Network (BON) is a diverse group of organizations and individuals across Ontario that work in the field of grief and bereavement as professionals and volunteers.


BON provides opportunities to access, in a reciprocal manner, the knowledge, experience, wisdom, and sensitivity of other members in Ontario. You can use BON to access this support for your clients and yourself.


Membership in the Bereavement Ontario Network is open to individuals, volunteer organizations, small business, and corporations. If your work brings you in contact with bereaved individuals, BON can help you to help them.


BON offers an annual conference, a directory of members, this newsletter, website, and the services of volunteer regional representatives. These representatives are available to answer questions and to refer you to available resources within your region.

Stay Connected with BON

Bereavement Ontario Network

174 Oxford Street

Woodstock, ON N4S 6B1

Telephone: 519-290-0219



Copyright © 2016 Bereavement Ontario Network, All rights reserved.

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