A bereavement support group gives you a safe space to share experiences and emotions with people who have a shared knowledge and understanding of where you might be at.
The time between someone dying and the funeral is often a very busy time – making contact with people, making arrangements for the funeral, doing all the official, legal things that are required as well as having many conversations about what has happened and how we are feeling.
After the funeral there seems to follow a quieter time when it comes to tasks and there comes a time and a need to return to ‘normality’. These are some of the comments we hear at our Bereavement support groups.
‘I want to talk about my Mum dying but people have stopped asking me about it and so I don’t know whether I can bring it up’
‘People assume that everything is okay because I am just getting on’
‘It’s been a year since my brother died and there seems to be a feeling that I should have moved on – but I don’t feel like that’
‘People cross the street when they see me – I think they are embarrassed or don’t know what to say’
‘I think my friends are afraid I might cry on them’
What is normal when we are talking about bereavement and grief?
Everyone’s grief is individual to them and yes there are some ‘norms’ in terms of our physical and emotional reactions to grief but really, we are all individual and we will have had our own relationship with the person who has died and we will respond to that in our own way.
What does become apparent though is that over the months that follow, our opportunities to talk to people about our experience and our emotions become less. Perhaps because we don’t feel like we can or should bother people; perhaps because we think that we might look okay to people on the outside that we don’t feel we can tell them how we are on the inside; perhaps people are afraid to ask us because they don’t know what kind of emotional response they will have to deal with. Whatever the reason, the fact is we don’t talk.
Counselling offers the opportunity to share our inner most thoughts with someone who is non-judgemental and impartial. However, it can sometimes be difficult to access free counselling or there is a long waiting list and not everyone can afford to pay for it.
A bereavement support group provides a safe space to explore your feelings
The idea of a bereavement support group is that you gain a safe space to share experiences and emotions with people who have a shared knowledge and understanding of where you might be at. The power of hearing that someone else has thought what you have been thinking, has wondered whether their feelings are ‘normal’ and shared the feeling of fog and forgetfulness, should not be underestimated.
Full Circle Funerals started our bereavement support group in October 2018. We held a meeting once a month and we had an open door welcoming anyone, not just families that held a funeral with us, but all who wanted to come and stay for as little or as long as they wanted to. The kettle was always warm, and the biscuits were plentiful.
Online bereavement support
Since March we have moved the group online. We were a little nervous about whether it would still be helpful for people but we wanted to be able to offer something safe and positive despite the restrictions we have found ourselves living with. Fortunately, the online group has continued to be a very positive and safe space for the people who attend. In fact, we have now been able to provide support for people living further away, those without transport and some people have told us they have found it easier to attend because some of the barriers have been removed.
If you think that you would like to attend the group, then please do get in touch. You may not want to say very much in front of a group of people who you have never met before – that’s okay. You may find yourself sharing more because they are strangers – that’s okay too. Either way, what we hope is that people feel comfortable and leave with a sense of their time having been spent in a worthwhile way. We aren’t counsellors but we are a team of people who work every day with the bereaved and we listen to their experiences and we share their lessons with those who we hope it can help.
‘I went home and I slept through the night for the first time since my husband died’
‘Someone in the group talked about a time of day that they found to be very difficult and how they decided to start a new routine at that time and it has helped them. I am going to try that too.’
‘It isn’t just me’
‘They all understood what I was trying to say even though I couldn’t find the words’
Full Circle Funerals Bereavement Support Group meets on the first Wednesday of the month, 5pm -6.30pm on Zoom. To join or attend a meeting, contact Ruth on firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone Nicola on 01422 400 430 to find out more about the group.
Nicola Kenyon, Full Circle Funerals, Halifax.