Our History


It all started when…

In 1977, John McKibbon, part of the chaplaincy department of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, whose own daughter had died of leukemia, initiated a parental bereavement support program endorsed by the hospital’s chaplain, Hugh Gemmell. Margaret Darte, Marilyn Lee, Diane Oakes Foster and Irene Clarfield, participants in this program then became involved in the development of a bereavement support program now known as Bereaved Families of Ontario (BFO). For this act and their ongoing efforts in building our organization, in 1998 our four founders received the Ontario Medal of Good Citizenship from The Honourable Hilary Weston, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.In 1988, the Metropolitan Toronto chapter of Bereaved Families was formed. Over time, other affiliates have also formed throughout Ontario, to meet the needs of bereaved individuals in their communities.

The Partnership between Self-Help and Professionals…

A unique aspect of BFO’s program among self-help and mutual support organizations, is our close working relationship with the professional community. Since its inception, we have always worked with professionals in an advisory capacity through having a clinical consultant and a Professional Advisory Committee.  

Quick Facts:

  • All our services are FREE to the public but donations are gratefully accepted.We have been providing grief support since 1988

  • We have been offering grief support for Children since 1997

  • We support grieving children, youth, adults and caregivers

  • We offer Peer-to-peer support with highly skilled volunteers Grief Facilitators.

  • With no government funding, we must fund raise 100% of our operating costs per year.

  • Our programs and policies are regularly reviewed by our professional consultants and Advisory Committee.