The development and evaluation of Canteen’s Good Grief program

Understanding the impacts of Canteen’s camp-based grief program that is designed to provide psychosocial support for young people who have experienced the death of a family member due to cancer.

Having a parent or sibling die from cancer is a highly distressing event at any life stage, but it can be particularly difficult for adolescents and young adults (AYAs).

Bereaved AYAs are often experiencing significant developmental changes and identity formation whilst also coping with their loss. As a result, cancer bereaved young people have unique emotional, psychological, and physical needs.

To support the needs of AYAs who have experienced the death of a family member due to cancer, Canteen developed the Good Grief program. Good Grief is a 3-day camp-based program that aims to provide a space for young people to:

  • learn about grief and loss
  • develop coping skills to assist them to manage their grief
  • get social support from other young people who understand what they are going through
  • have a break from day-to-day life and have fun

To understand whether Good Grief was enjoyable and helpful for cancer bereaved young people, 109 AYAs who attended a Good Grief program were surveyed before, immediately after, and 3-months after the program.

Participants reported high levels of program satisfaction, engagement with the sessions, and enjoyment of activities. Improvements were seen in participants’ abilities to cope with trauma. After attending the program, young people also reported fewer unmet needs in the areas of managing emotions, social support, having a break, planning for the future, and accessing information and support. 


Conference presentation

Patterson, P., McDonald, F. E. J., Jones, B., Elizabeth, K.D., Lavorgna, B., Powell, T. (2020) Good Grief – A residential psychosocial program for young people bereaved by cancer. Oral presentation at the 35th Annual CAPO Conference Canada.

Take part in the Good Grief Program
If you are interested in taking part in a Good Grief program, contact your closest Canteen office. Read our published article on the Good Grief program for further information.