Bereavement is something which all of us experience at some time in our lives, and we each respond in different ways.
People often experience a range of emotions from disbelief, anxiety, guilt to deep sadness and pain. Sometimes people can feel more irritable, angry or confused whilst others can feel a sense of relief that the person has died particularly when there has been a period of long illness of pain. Grief can be a very individual process.
Our Wellbeing and Family Support team provides a range of services (see below) for individuals, families and children of Hospice patients, in West Herts and South Bucks, who are affected by a loved one’s life-limiting illness both pre and post bereavement.
Ways We Help
Our Wellbeing and Family Support team will understand how you are feeling and will offer support which may include the following:
Telephone Support Calls
A member of our Bereavement Support Line team will call you to see how you are and to offer you a space to talk things through. Our Support line operates on Mondays between 4pm and 8:30pm. Some people feel one or two calls are enough: others welcome regular calls for longer.
Pilgrim Group and Tea@2 Bereavement Support Group
We may invite you to come along to one of our groups which offers the opportunity to meet others who might be in similar situation to you following a close bereavement. Wellbeing and Family Support members facilitate these groups and offer one to one conversations for those who would like them; otherwise people sit in small groups and talk amongst themselves.
Our Pilgrim Group, an informal support group on the last Monday of the month from 7pm- 8.30pm, whilst Tea at 2, its afternoon equivalent, runs on the last Wednesday of the month from 2pm- 3:30pm.
We understand that coming to a group for the first time can be difficult, so prior to the meeting, the coordinator of the group will telephone you to talk in more detail and discuss arrival arrangements to ensure you are welcomed on arrival.
Some people come along for a few months, others stay for longer- everyone chooses their own way and time of leaving the group.
We can offer individual bereavement support sessions to family members and close friends of Hospice patients.
Some people might feel they would like a one off session to talk through something in particular; others may prefer to attend sessions on a more regular basis over a period of time with reviews every six sessions up to a maximum of 24. All our counsellors are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and abide by its ethical framework.
Our specially trained volunteers can visit to support you in your own home. They will provide a listening ear and give you the opportunity to talk through how you are feeling.
Cooking with Chris
Cooking with Chris is a six week cooking group for bereaved family members and carers that helps to increase motivation to cook and teaches vital cooking skills and techniques. Run twice yearly, in the spring and the autumn, each course has 6 – 8 participants that cook and eat together at the end of each session and who are supported throughout by our Wellbeing Team.
These groups recently featured on the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme in a story on Bereavement and Food. The radio feature interviewed participants about their experiences and there are some very moving interviews.
By spiritual care we mean the essence of who a person is, what’s important to them, the things they are interested in, whatever lifts their spirits and how they cope with the difficult times in their life. This might be connected to faith or a particular spirituality, but can also be about things like family, sport, TV or your love of music.
We recognise that many things which give us pleasure and meaning in our life are more difficult to connect with when we are ill. However, this is just the time we need to connect with those pleasures even more.
Illness also brings us face to face with very difficult questions about the meaning of life, the meaning of illness, why bad things happen and how dreadful losses can be faced. Often a stay in the Hospice gives time for contemplation and various questions arise, some religious, some not.
If it is your wish, we can help you to face those difficult questions. All our staff are trained to listen and help you explore these challenges. In addition, our Chaplain, Ray, meets regularly with patients, family members and friends, exploring questions or simply just ‘being there’ in your journey.
Other clergy or religious leaders are welcome to visit the Hospice at any time to see members of their own community and to follow any appropriate religious observances. The Chaplain can facilitate this for you, and there is a list of faith leaders’ contact details available in the nurses’ office.
The Hospice Chapel offers a quiet place to pray, reflect or just be still. We encourage continuing spiritual care of families through local community faith congregations and groups.
Communion is available in patients’ rooms or in the chapel by arrangement with the Chaplain.
The Chaplain is also available to discuss funeral plans and options, and can conduct funerals in some circumstances
Services of Thanksgiving and Remembrance
Our Chaplain coordinates regular Services of Thanksgiving and Remembrance to allow our bereaved friends and relatives a chance to reflect upon and commemorate their loved ones.
We now extend invitations to families and friends around the first anniversary of the bereavement. These services have been well attended, and offer an opportunity for people to come back to the Hospice to mark this very important and often emotive time.
The services take place monthly, usually on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 pm, and last about half an hour. They are followed by refreshments in the Bistro. There are members of the Supportive Care Team’s bereavement volunteers on hand to meet and greet visitors, help with the service and talk to people over the refreshments.
Children are welcome and a volunteer member of the Children’s Services team is always in attendance.
Children and Young Person’s Support
Children’s Supportive Care offer support to children, young people and their parents when there is significant illness in the family and after bereavement, encouraging them to express their thoughts and feelings. We are here to ‘walk alongside you’ in your journey.
Children and young people can express themselves and reflect about their situation in a safe, facilitated environment where the young person can express themselves through talking, art making, play and storytelling. We hold individual and group sessions which encourage peer support.
Sometimes there are things that children want to know; perhaps they feel afraid to ask and those more closely involved family members may find difficult to answer. We also offer the following activities for children at different times throughout the year:
Family Film Mornings: This is an opportunity for families to watch a film with other families who are bereaved or dealing with significant illness.
Family Activity and Pony Days: Informal family groups supporting children at the Hospice include our Pony Days in the Hospice grounds. These run every 4-6 weeks between March and September and are handled by our Children’s Supportive Care Team, with ponies supplied and handled one of our nurses. This session offers therapeutic animal facilitation alongside a themed art activity for children aged between 2- 12 years old where there is serious illness in the family or who are bereaved.
Teen Drop In: Teen Drop In is a fortnightly group running on Tuesday evenings for teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 where there is serious illness in the family or who are bereaved. An informal activities group led by two experienced child support workers, this offers an opportunity for teenagers that have shared similar experiences and or feelings to support each other in a safe environment.