Enquiries: 1300 11 BEAR

Grief Support: 1300 11 HOPE



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Our Support Team

Kelly Merchant – Counsellor and Support Services Coordinator

Kelly is a mum of 3 children….two that walk with her hand in hand and one that lives in her heart. In 2004, Kelly experienced the exhilaration of bringing a son into this world. In 2007 her life was devastated with the news her daughter was unable to be revived at birth and in 2008 hope returned with the safe arrival of a third child, a second son.
Life continues to throw challenges but in Kelly’s opinion there is nothing more difficult and complicated than saying goodbye to your child before there has been the chance to really say hello. Relationships can become strained, personal values can be questioned and life as it was previously known can be erased. Kelly has been fortunate to travel this journey with her husband by her side and together they have renovated their hearts to incorporate a family that carries the love for a daughter they cannot see.

In 2013 Kelly completed her post graduate studies in Counselling, specialising in trauma, grief and loss. This compliments her undergraduate degree in Psychology and provides her a strong basis to relate using both the heart and the mind to guide her in the support bereaved parents regularly search for. Kelly has over 10 years experience working with bereavement and in 2012 commenced working with Bears of Hope, first in a volunteer position and in 2014 a part time role.

“It is my hope that through my communications with bereaved parents and their families, that they will be offered a glimmer of stability through what feels like a raging storm. In confiding and talking with me I hope there is a sense of comfort knowing that they are not alone on this journey.”


Dorothy Packwood – Volunteer Counsellor

Dorothy is widow and bereaved mother of six with no living children. Based in Adelaide, Dorothy is a volunteer support worker and counsellor for Bears of Hope with a diploma of counselling. Dorothy sees her role as companioning other bereaved parents and their families and sees it is an honour and privilege to do so. Dorothy can be contacted to chat on the phone support line 1300 11 HOPE every Tuesday from 9am until about the same time on Wednesday mornings. She is also available to talk to people outside of those times (and for those in Adelaide can catch for a cuppa) and can be contacted via the Hopebearsof Facebook profile where she is moderator to our Parent Support Page.

Suze Ingram – Volunteer Student Counsellor

Suze is a bereaved mum having lost a baby during pregnancy after experiencing fertility issues and IVF. She lives in Sydney with her husband and son. Adjusting to life after such a devastating loss involved patience, rest, self-compassion, time, and tremendous support from family, friends and a counsellor. Since then Suze has been drawn to grief and loss counselling, offering a compassionate heart and an understanding space for others who have experienced the loss of their beloved child. Suze is currently completing her Graduate Diploma in Counselling and offers counselling on Fridays.

Greg Boerma – Volunteer Counsellor

Greg is the father of 9 children losing his 7th child, Tabitha Rose, at 22 weeks due to a nuchal cord resulting in utero asphyxiation. In 1996, fathers were expected to be strong for their family, extended family, and friends. Being devastated himself, he had to partition himself off from his feelings, so he could be there for others. For many years he had this feeling of an ‘aching hole’ in his heart which led him to Bears of Hope to support all affected with the loss of a child, with a particular focus on male support.
Greg has worked in many fields including extended stints in education, architecture and he completed his post-graduate studies in Counselling in 2016. He specialises in adolescent/family, trauma, loss and grief counselling. Greg works with a holistic style that includes mind, heart, body, and soul to offer ‘Hope’.
Greg’s involvement as a bereavement counsellor with BOH started in August 2018 at the Dads’ Sport and Support weekend at Wisemans Ferry, NSW. He is also available for counselling ‘by appointment’ generally on Friday nights and over the weekends.

Phone Counselling - an opportunity to have a chat with our counsellor from the comfort of your own home in a timeframe that suits you. Phone sessions are for 60mins and are easy to organise. Please email our counsellor on requesting a phone counselling session and we will organise with you a best time to call. There is no charge for this service.

Email Counselling – If you are not ready to speak then perhaps you would like to write to our counsellor. Through email we can discuss some of the most important things on your mind, provide coping techniques and ways to manage your grief that you may have felt were beginning to consume your thoughts…..

Skype Counselling – the ability to speak and the see our counsellor from the security and comfort of your own home, no matter where you are in Australia. Our Skype sessions are for 60mins and require an appointment to be set up through emailing There is no cost for this support.