Advance Care Planning

People who engage in ACP are more likely to have their wishes known, and followed, at end of life.

9 ACP Resources

Grief and Bereavement

Compassionate Ottawa has responded to the issue of people feeling helpless in supporting their friends, neighbours and family when their loved ones die.

6 Grief and Loss Resources

Conversations with Leaders

Our Conversations with Leaders series provides an excellent way of keeping informed on current and emerging topics impacting compassionate communities.

End of Life Care is Everyone’s Responsibility (October, 2020)

This virtual event featured a conversation between Dr. Allan Kellehear and Dr. Mary Lou Kelley. Their conversation included the reasons why end-of-life care is everyone’s responsibility, the use of language in compassionate communities, what we have learned from the pandemic, and more.

Watch here

Compassion and Action: How Ottawa’s Front-line Workers are Dealing with Dying, Death, Loss & Grief (November, 2020)

Hosted by Jack McCarthy, former Executive Director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre and current Vice-Chair of Compassionate Ottawa, this virtual event featured a conversation with Wendy Muckle and Anne Marie Hopkins of Ottawa Inner City Health. They talked about how the pandemic and the opioid crisis are having a devastating impact on Ottawa’s most vulnerable residents and how front-line workers are dealing with the ensuing dying, death, loss and grief. Are the necessary social and health supports in place to bring compassion to the most vulnerable among us?

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Health, Social Services and the Community Working Together: Better Outcomes for All (January, 2021)

This virtual event featured a conversation between Dr. Julian Abel, physician and Director of Compassionate Communities UK, and Dr. Nick Busing, retired family physician and Compassionate Ottawa Board member. Together they explored a model of care that demonstrates the essential role of the community in improving the health of its residents in partnership with health care providers. The conversation described how working together helps build compassionate communities, and also included findings from studies that highlight the benefits of compassionate communities.
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Illness, Suffering and Spirituality: The Path to Hope and Healing (March, 2021)

In this conversation, Lorraine M. Wright talked with Marion Rattray about practical and thoughtful ways that we can engage with each other when neighbours, friends, or patients are experiencing serious illness or loss in their lives, or are caring for a family member. Lorraine drew on her own life experiences, told stories, included humour and offered her perspective from her experience as a leader in the field of family nursing, as an academic with the University of Calgary, and as an author.

Watch here

Palliative Care and Grief during the Pandemic (April, 2021)

In this conversation, Johanne de Montigny talked with Jean-Pierre Soublière about the impact of grief and how the losses caused by the pandemic have contributed to it. They also discussed palliative care, including what it is, when it comes into a person’s life, and how someone with a life-limiting illness can move towards acceptance. Johanne drew on her thirty years of professional experience with the McGill University Health Centre and its palliative care network, as well as her university teaching on the relational phenomena surrounding death and grief.

Watch here (In French Only)

Strength and Compassion: Footsteps on the Path of Indigenous Ways of Living with Dying and Death (June, 2021)

In honor of National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada on June 21, 2021, Compassionate Ottawa was honored to host this month’s Conversations with Leaders with two Indigenous Elders. For many Indigenous peoples, dying and death are a transition rather than a finite “end-of-life”. With one foot in the living world and one in the spiritual world, the ideology of morbidity is not present, yet the approaches to it vary significantly from one community to another. There is a constant negotiation for life through ceremony which involves an ongoing relationship with ancestors.

In this virtual event, Erica Claus, Secretary of the Compassionate Ottawa Board of Directors, had a conversation with two Indigenous leaders, Elder Stephen Augustine and Elder Annie Smith St-Georges, who shared their ways to inspire and inform us. Together, we discovered how traditional, thriving and compassionate Indigenous communities support one another. We also learned how some Indigenous communities handle the last days’ transition to the spirit world, and then how to let the departed go, through emotions and memories.

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Trust in Compassionate Communities (October, 2021)

This conversation featured The Right Honourable David Johnston, Canada’s 28th governor general, and Mr. Lewis Auerbach, Compassionate Ottawa volunteer. Drawing on Mr. Johnston’s latest book, entitled “Trust,” they discussed the link between empathy and trust; what it means to be a compassionate community; and what we can do as a community to build trust and to support one another.
Watch here

Let’s Talk About Later Life

Faces of Help

A collection of short, personal, impactful stories that tell the experiences of 7 storytellers reflecting on giving and receiving help when dealing with aging, caregiving, dying, and grieving. We invite you to view the stories; discuss them with family, friends and neighbours; and share them wherever you work, volunteer, learn, pray, or play.

Viewers’ comments

Endearing; beautiful; warm; inspiring; personal; intimate; hopeful; rich; real.

“The videos are all real. They brought tears!”


“I see these as conversation starters that might be used by groups or individuals to open discussion and to explore the issues which impact people.”


“Authentic – a real treasure these days!”


“They pass the goose bump test! The first thought I had was how much death has to teach us about how to live. I look forward to sharing these with my students.”


The Open Door – Sue Simonson

Susan tells us of the importance of really listening, as she helps a teenager deal with a personal conflict.

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Dancing With Lucy – Marvin Bedward

Marvin, having experienced life-threatening medical challenges, used and transformed these emergencies through music, art, and relationships important to him.

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Dying is Part of Living – Karin Scheerder-Tesser

Karin reflects on the deeply meaningful experience of caring for family members at the end of life, and having been inspired to offer help as a hospice volunteer.

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Last Wishes – Ann Barkley

Ann provides us with a story of keeping her father’s wishes for no family or public expression following his death, and tells us of the consequences of doing so.

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Listening to the People Behind the Numbers – Martha Fair

Martha invites us to go beyond the numbers, recognizing a person’s needs, then providing practical support.

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Lost In Translation – Michelle de Courville Nicol

Michelle, as a caregiver, reveals the challenges of receiving language appropriate end-of-life services.

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The Dressing Room – John Cosgrove

John describes the support he received from male friends following the loss of his wife.

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Discussion Leader’s Guide

Book Chats

Book chats help us think about and talk about our values and wishes for end-of-life. Download our resources and organize one now!

Participants’ comments

“Hearing other people’s experiences was very useful.”

“I found the book thought provoking, practical and compassionate.”

“The book chat started me thinking about how to approach these subjects with family.”

“The book chat prompted me to realize that I need to think about the planning BEFORE death.”

“I think I am better prepared now to talk about dying.”

Host’s Guide

Participants’ Guide

Interview with Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller

On “Real Life Talks,” Yvonne Heath interviews Kathy Kortes-Miller about her book “Talking about Death Won’t Kill You.”

Watch here

Kathy Kortes-Miller TEDxKanata


An unconventional death educator with an equal parts wry and wise delivery style, Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller is committed to showing her audience that talking about death and dying won’t kill you. Using stories and research, Kathy extends an invitation to view death as not a taboo subject – but rather a shared life experience. Audience members walk away with shifted perspectives and a deep understanding that talking about death, without knowing or needing all the “answers”, actually brings us closer to our loved ones than we ever imagined possible.

Watch here

The Compassionate Ottawa Story

Coming December 1


We need to more effectively support school children and others experiencing loss and grief, including their families.

6 School Resources on Dying, Death, Grief & Loss


Research indicates that 1 in 4 people are grieving at work right now, and the death of one person has an impact on at least five other individuals.

6 Resources for Workplaces

Faith Communities

Compassionate Ottawa decided early on to make faith communities a priority area for program and network development, along with schools and workplaces.

4 Faith Communities Resources

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