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Join us November 2nd at Lighthouse for the First Annual Children's Grief Awareness Symposium

Supported by

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Registration is now closed for the Grief Symposium. However if you want to be placed on a wait list contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For the past 18 years, The Lighthouse has supported children, teens and their families after a life altering death. Let us share what you can do to help those families in your community, school and work place.

Participants will have opportunities to

  • Increase their awareness of the impact of death on children, youth and their families.
  • Learn practical ideas for supporting grieving children and teens.

Scroll down for workshop descriptions and presenter bios.


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 Click here for a printable PDF of the Schedule

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Registration is now closed for the Grief Symposium. However if you want to be placed on a wait list contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Workshop Descriptions

The following workshops are being run throughout the day by Lighthouse staff, with three session times to choose from.

Supporting Grieving Students - Candace Ray, M.Ed., CAGS

Participants will learn about the impact of grief on bereaved students and how school staff can provide meaningful support to students within the school setting.

Supporting Grieving Teens - Sharon O’Donnell, B.A, B.S.W., RSW

The death of a significant person presents challenges to people of all ages. Teens, due to their age and stage of development, encounter unique challenges and needs that can be confusing to the adults who care about them. Participants will learn about what grief looks like in a teen, the challenges they encounter and ways they can be of support to them.

Talking to Children about Death and Supporting Their Grieving - Erica Bostwick, B.A. B.Ed

This session will help participants learn about the needs of grieving children and how best to support them. The session will also address the importance of truth telling in speaking with children about someone in their life who has died and finding the words to help children understand death at an age and stage appropriate level.

The Importance of Children Attending Funeral Rituals - Erica Bostwick & Deirdre Madden, Glen Oaks Funeral Home

This session will focus on the funeral ritual as an important part of a child’s grieving and how to create meaningful funerals that are relevant to children. Presenters will also share ways adults can prepare children for funerals and language to use when discussing funerals with children.

National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) Webcast Sessions

Each session is only being run once – refer to schedule for times.

Session II. When A Parent is Dying... Honesty is an Ethical Imperative - Patti Anewalt, PhD, LPC, FT

Description: Honesty is essential when helping children understand and cope with the terminal illness and death of a parent. Yet far too often, out of a desire to protect, adults withhold information. This leaves children ill prepared to cope with the death. Children and teens needs are often overlooked because the focus is on the dying parent. Adapting J. William Worden’s tasks, this session will address the three tasks facing children and teens when facing the death of a parent. With adequate information and support, parents and caregivers can help create a feeling of connection within the family despite this turmoil. This sense of connection is what helps families get through this difficult time.

Session III. The Other Kids – Ethically Supporting Siblings Experiencing Anticipatory Grief - Taryn Schuelke, CCLS, CPMT

Description: The dying child. The caregivers. The siblings. It's common for our attention to prioritize the family in this order. It's easy to overlook our third priority when they're not always present before our eyes, but what about them, the forgotten ones? What about The Other Kids? How and why do we not include them?
Maybe it's a requested or forced exclusion from the caregivers themselves. Maybe the intensity is so high, time so limited, and staffing so short. Maybe there are visitation restrictions. There are plenty of reasons this may happen, but is it ethical to keep the siblings away from the dying child? Is it ethical to include them? How can we assess this and bridge the gap? Sometimes the kids ARE present and actively involved with their dying sibling. What do we say to them? What are they thinking and feeling? How can we best support these young grievers on the sidelines? How do we work with the parents to support The Other Kids? These questions and more will be explored in this session through discussion, lecture, and real case examples. 

Session IV. Developmental and Ethical Engagement in Children Experiencing Anticipatory Grieving, Ambiguous Loss and Life Limiting Illness - Jeanine Clapsaddle, MA, LMFT, CCLS

Description: Developmental theory has been applied to every aspect of a child’s worldly experience. However, putting theory into practice to address the therapeutic needs of a dying child or a child living with chronic illness has staid many clinicians, uncertain of how to begin. Through a developmental framework and review of current literature, this presentation will discuss opportunities for engaging children in their own grief and loss process, identify the ethical challenges intertwined in working with children, and examine the impact of ambiguous loss on the normative development of pediatric patient survivors. in providing grief and loss services to dying pediatric patients.


Panel Bio’s

Jo Fallon

Jo Fallon pioneered the work of Children and Teens Grief support in Halton and Peel some 19 years ago.     Jo founded The Lighthouse for Grieving Children .  As the years passed the reputation of the Lighthouse grew.  Jo's vision of a center that provides the space  and safe environment for children and teens and their families who have experienced the life altering death of an immediate family member has had a profound effect on countless families and the community.  This is a subject that is openly acknowledged now thanks to Jo's gentle determination, which is so important if we are to break stigma around talking with Children about death and Dying.  Now, Lighthouse is a flourishing resource of excellence regarding childhood and teen grief experience.  LIghthouse has recently opened it new premises to accommodate more groups and families,  and to the able to train others across Canada who would like to set up a similar center to Lighthouse.  Jo was awarded the YMCA Peace Medallion in 2013 for leadership in the Community.  Jo had also Co-chaired the Leadership arm of the Oakville United Way Campaign and has been of various think-tanks for Community initiatives.  Prior to her move to Canada, Jo worked at Lloyds of London and then for many years as the Merchandising  Editor of Harpers and Queen Magazine in London.  To her relief,  she has managed to raise two kind hearted, insightful, committed and articulate young Men! She also has a couple of dogs, a cat and a horse! Recently Jo has begun mentoring people who are setting up non- profits and is throughly enjoying it.  Jo's Mother died when she was almost 8 and her Father when she was 18 and still in High School.  Her Aunt, who brought Jo and her brother up, died shortly before her second child was born. Her brother in law was killed just after her second son was born and just before his second child was born. These very different experiences provide the backdrop for Jo's determination to provide a setting where childhood grief is processed and understood so that people can learn how best to provide support.

Michael Patterson 

Michael is an Anglican priest working in a parish in Oakville. Prior to returning to Church of the Incarnation in Oakville in 2013, Michael was the Executive Officer for the Diocese of Niagara in Hamilton. Michael is also a ‘survivor’ of un-resolved grief having lost his father to cancer when Michael was just ten years old. This formative experience led Michael early in his career to focus much of his professional life to working with people who had suffered loss and were living with grief. He first worked at Princess Margaret Hospital and then moved to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto where he specialized in childhood and adolescent grief. He developed support groups for families who were living with loss and was a co- founder of an organization called ‘Locusts and Wild Honey; supporting people who suffer from grief and trauma”. Michael believes that our culture needs to do a much better job of re-sourcing, supporting, comforting and guiding people through the seemingly dark night of grief. Michael is very pleased to be able to participate and support the important work of the Lighthouse here in Oakville.

Marcus Logan

Marcus Logan is the Manager, Community Information for the Oakville Public Library and the lead administrator of the Halton Information Providers collaborative that maintains the Halton Community Services Database information and referral resource. Marcus has brought his passion for children, youth and families wellbeing to the Halton region for over 20 years and continues serve on boards and coalitions in the region that foster positive mental health. Currently Marcus is an active member on the Halton Suicide Prevention Coalition, Halton Children’s AID Society board member, member of the LGBTQ+ Youth Collective Impact project, a 7 year volunteer camp director for Camp Ten Oaks and a new member of the Professional Advisory Committee with the Lighthouse for Grieving Children. At the age of 10, Marcus lost his father after a long battle with heart disease while alone at the family cottage. The sudden death of his father and the isolation of being at the cottage alone, Marcus had to turn to strangers to help figure out how to manage the situation. Marcus’ fathers last words to him where “stay with your mom until I come back to get you”, after discovering his father’s death, these words – now burned into Marcus memory and his heart - shaped the next decade of Marcus’ life and still do today. The grief and loss Marcus has experienced was supported as best as his mother could without professional or peer support. Several years later Marcus lost his best friend – his grandmother – and experienced the loss and grief once again. To understand and manage the emotions and feelings of loss and grief, Marcus turned his focus to volunteering and learning about end of life care and became a trained palliative care volunteer. In caring for others Marcus was able to find the answers and skills he needed to navigate the grief and loss in his life. Marcus is drawn to the Lighthouse, its staff and programs as he continues his lifelong learning of his own grief and loss to better support others.

Hanna Blades

Lighthouse opened its doors to Hanna Blades shortly after her mother died, of suicide. Hanna was only 13 years old at the time. She joined a group of like-minded teens, having the common element of loss being shared among them. Through the visits at Lighthouse, she found comfort in the knowledge that she was not alone in her grief. Hanna was given guidance and support, along with specific tools pertaining to coping with the loss and enormous changes that would affect the lives of both Hanna and her older brother Trevor. Lighthouse had such a profound healing effect on Hanna that, in fact; two years ago, she returned to the organization as a facilitator with the tween/teen groups.

Lighthouse and Glen Oaks Staff Presenter Bio’s

Candace Ray, M.Ed., CAGS, Director of Services and Operations

Candace leads the Lighthouse service delivery team of staff and volunteers and coordinates community education and training initiatives for the Lighthouse. With 30 years experience in social work and public education, Candace has supported children and their families facing a range of life challenges in both community and educational settings. While working as a public school teacher, Candace served on the Educational Support Team; a collaborative team of teachers and administrators developing inclusive and innovative programs to support students with academic and other life challenges, including grief and bereavement, within the school setting. Candace holds a B.S in Human Services from Keene State College and a Masters Degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Education from the University of Vermont.

Sharon O’Donnell B.A, B.S.W., RSW

As Coordinator of Support Services at the Lighthouse, Sharon brings with her over 30 years of social work experience in child and family service agencies where she has assisted children and their parents to deal with a wide range of family issues. In addition to leading children’s, teen and parent support groups and enrolling new families at the Lighthouse, Sharon has fielded hundreds of telephone inquiries and provides consultations to grieving families and community professionals in Halton Peel and beyond. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S.W from McMaster University and serves as a board member for the Bereavement Ontario Network where she has chaired the annual conference for the last two years.

Erica Bostwick, B.A. B.Ed.

Erica joined the Lighthouse as a volunteer facilitator in 2011. As the Lighthouse expanded, so did her role. As Coordinator of Support Groups since 2012, Erica has lead numerous children’s and teen support groups, supported dozens of facilitator volunteers and developed countless group activities to help children and teens explore and express their experiences in grief with their peers. Erica completed the Concurrent Education Program, B.A. Psychology, B. Ed. at Queens University and has obtained certificates in Bereavement Education from U. of T. and in Children’s Grief and Bereavement from Hinks Dellcrest Centre.

Deirdre Madden

Deirdre has proudly served the community for over 16 years as a licensed funeral director and has worked the past 10 years at the Glen Oaks Funeral Home.  Having been involved in over 1000 funerals Deirdre is acutely aware of the importance of including children in the funeral process and has developed an in house library to provide support to families as they journey through the grief process.
As a funeral director, Deirdre believes strongly that it is her duty to provide continued support and bereavement resources to grieving families in the days following the death of a loved one.
Deirdre has engaged in a range of volunteer opportunities and completed various workshops all of which have proved beneficial in her understanding of grief.   She has recently completed a course of study in “Why We Need Funerals” by Dr. Alan D.  Wolfelt and has also volunteered with the Lighthouse for Grieving Children as well as Credit Valley Hospital “Handprints on Our Hearts”.

National Alliance for Grieving Children Webcast Presenter Bio’s

Patti Anewalt, PhD, LPC, FT

The focus of her clinical practise, writing and teaching is on issues related to end of life, grief, compassion fatigue and crisis response, presenting at the national, state and local level. A Fellow in Thanatology with the Association for Death, Education and Counselling where she is on the Board of Directions, she is a member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement. As Director at the Pathways Center for Grief & Loss, Patti oversees a wide variety of bereavement services for adults, children and teens, serving over 5500 individuals a month. She oversees the Coping Kids & Teens program which provides individual and group support, school grief groups, grief and crisis response trainings in the schools and an overnight children’s bereavement camp she started in 1996.

Taryn Schuelke, CCLS, CPMT

Taryn is the Palliative Care Grief and Bereavement Specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, she assist families in navigating the grief that comes with their child’s life limiting illness, end-of-life support, and bereavement follow up care after the death of their child. Taryn co-chairs the interdisciplinary System Wide Bereavement Committee where they work on systemic projects, policies, and procedures to better serve patients and families facing end-of-life care. She has a passion for ethics, grief education, and spirituality within Palliative Care. Taryn is a Certified Child Life Specialist, and her background is in Emergency Center, Neonatal Intensive Care, and Women’s Services units, working with patients and their families. Her history as a CCLS grew in her a heart to serve those who are grieving and led her to the role she holds now. When She's not helping families grieve, Taryn is at home with her family, acting childish, and playing her ukulele. Her motto is no guilt in life, no fear in death, and there is joy to be found in every moment.

Jeanine Clapsaddle, MA, LMFT, CCLS

Jeanine is a Certified Child Life Specialist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years’ experience working with pediatric patients and their families, providing intervention and support throughout their course of medical care, transition to home and bereavement experiences. She currently serves as the Clinical Supervisor for the Child Life, Music Therapy and Healing Arts Program at Arnold Palmer Medical Center in Orlando, Florida.