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While grief is a natural part of life, when someone you love dies it can also be a difficult and sometimes devastating experience.

Like many people, you may find it helpful to talk to someone outside your family and friends. 

This booklet outlines the support we offer, both group events and one-to-one support. We recognise that each person grieves in their own way, that people express and experience their grief differently.

St Michael’s Hospice has a Supportive Care Team which includes counsellors, social workers, chaplains, listening support volunteers and spiritual care volunteers. 

We offer a counselling service for those affected by a terminal illness, either as a patient, a family member, or a carer. Talking through the changes you are experiencing can help you to recognise your problems, make positive changes and enhance your wellbeing.

A terminal illness can have an impact on you alone, your relationship, or it may affect the whole family. Because of this,counselling can be given individually or in groups. How you want to work will be discussed in your first meeting with your counsellor.

Our social workers have a wide range of knowledge about the practical, financial, social and emotional impact of bereavement.

We can provide both emotional support and practical advice, and can see you at the Hospice or at home.

We can also liaise and advocate on your behalf with other agencies and professionals.

We recognise children and young people grieve as deeply as adults and we are committed to helping families support them with their loss and grief. HOPE at St Michael’s provides group and individual support for children and young people aged from 2 to 25.

We also offer support for their parents, grandparents and close relatives to help them work out how best to support their children before and after bereavement.

Listening Support Volunteers are trained in active listening skills and can offer you the space to think, express emotions and process what is going on for you. Many people find it helpful to talk in confidence to someone outside their family and friendship group. Some people find one session is enough; others are helped by ongoing support.

Listening Support Volunteers do not offer assistance with practical tasks, but they are knowledgeable about local services and can share information about them.

Chaplains and spiritual care volunteers are available to offer bereavement support and can make home visits. Our aim is to provide the highest quality spiritual care for you. We will always do our best to listen carefully and to provide a safe, secure and confidential environment.

Our starting point is your starting point, whatever your faith or philosophy. If you wish, we are happy to work with your local faith leader.

About three months after your family member or close friend has died, we will invite you to a light lunch. At the lunch you can meet other people who are bereaved and, if you wish, talk to a member of the Hospice staff or one of our Listening Support or Spiritual Care volunteers.

You can attend these monthly lunches for twelve months. Some people come to one, some, or all the lunches over a period of time.

About six months after your bereavement you and your family will be invited to one of these Saturday afternoons, when your family member or friend will be remembered by name during a short service followed by tea.

During this event a flower arrangement is built up as each name is read out and doves are released (dependent on weather conditions). Children are invited to write messages and are each given a teddy.

You don’t have to go through bereavement alone. The Bereavement Support Group can help you in your grief by allowing you time and space to explore your feelings and emotions.

People can join the group from six months after a bereavement.

For more information or to express an interest in attending, contact the Supportive Care Team on 01432 851 000.

‘Friends’ is a series of social groups for those who have been bereaved. The group meets monthly in a central venue in Hereford.

This informal, friendly group is supported by Hospice staff and offers the opportunity for meeting others in similar circumstances, sharing experiences and making new friends over morning coffee.

Striders & Strollers is a monthly short walk for people who have been bereaved – a chance to walk and talk.

Light up a Life is a series of special community events that take place across the world during November and December each year. St Michael’s Hospice organises a number of services and events for Light up a Life throughout the area we serve, to enable families and friends to come together to remember and celebrate the lives of loved ones.

If you wish, you can dedicate a message in memory of a loved one by lighting a candle and recording their name in a book of remembrance.

It represents a time to be comforted and to share hope with others. The events are open to all, not just those who have experienced hospice care.

St Michael’s Hospice also hosts a Midsummer Lights event, along the same lines as Light up a Life, on a Friday evening near to Midsummer’s Day, when we scatter rose petals as we remember our loved ones.

HOPE Support Services runs monthly bereavement and pre-bereavement support groups for 5-11-year-olds, 11-16-year-olds and 16-25-year-olds. The groups meet at St Michael’s Hospice and extra activities are held during the school holidays.

The groups enable young people to share their emotions and feelings in a safe place while being supported by trained staff. Participants have the opportunity to take part in a range of fun and therapeutic activities.

11-25-year-olds can also join an online support group and take part in
community youth sessions, trips and residentials.

The Y-Team provides an opportunity for young people over 14 to become Hospice Champions. The Champions volunteer for St Michael’s, raise sponsorship by taking part in events, such as mud runs, and organising their own challenges. Being a Hospice Champion gives young people the chance to be creative, and learn new skills whilst enjoying new experiences.

Everyone is different and some of what we offer may be more helpful to you than to others. Some people will feel that they do not need additional support. There is no set pattern to grief and no timescale for grieving and you may find support helpful in the early days or perhaps later on. We have enclosed a card with our contact details so you can contact us when you need to.

The period between a death and a funeral can be a busy time and often it is afterwards, when family and friends have resumed their lives, that people can feel lonely and bereft. Feelings of overwhelming sadness and emotional pain, guilt and anger, loss of concentration, disbelief, the sense that you are going mad, are all normal. Some people feel that they will never be happy again and some may become depressed.

Many people experience physical symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite, feelings of panic and palpitations, changes in sleep patterns. If you are worried about any of these you may wish to consult your GP.

How we grieve is unique to each of us and depends on the person you are, the relationship you had with the person who has died and perhaps how that person died. Many people find it helpful to talk to someone else about how they are feeling.

We will write to you again to invite you to a Bereavement Lunch.

Meanwhile, if you would like to talk to someone, please phone the Supportive Care Team on 01432 851 000.