Following on from Grief Awareness Week I thought I’d take a moment to share some learning about bereavement and what Time to Shine projects discovered.
In my family we’re lucky, we don’t have any Christmas bereavements (I’ll add ‘yet’ to that statement, and touch wood quickly) so there’s no extra burden of grief to carry alongside the Christmas festivities and family arguments.
Christmas, though, is for many people a moment to take stock. In my callow youth I’d always wonder, home for Christmas, why my family spent so much time listing those who’d died in the last year. In my maturity (I’m forced to admit I am more middle-aged than I was last year) I’m starting to do the sums too. Three friends and colleagues in the last year, not really much older than me, too young to go yet. A flurry of meet-ups driven by the thought the next one might be another funeral. How much more difficult it is to see when I talk to people much older, that it’s not friends who are dying, but the children of friends.
Inevitably, working with older people who were the most lonely, Time to Shine delivery partners worked with a lot of people who had been bereaved, and they took a range of approaches. Shared Tables deliberately worked with single people, many single through bereavement, who could offer each other support based on a shared experience – although it wasn’t promoted in that way.
Lippy People – in their Life Loss Learning and Legacy project very specifically worked with older men, using video storytelling. The men were encouraged to share their feelings and the group was a safe space to be angry, confused or sad. You can see their playlist here.
We produced a report, Grief takes many forms, to share some of these approaches, and to share the first-hand experience of many of the participants. You can use it to help stimulate discussion and start conversations about bereavement, grief and loss. It highlights both the complexity of the subject (not everyone is sad) in the hope that this might help staff and volunteers to feel more confident about death and dying.
We hope they help you to support people thinking of those they have lost, in a way that helps them this Christmas.
Other organisations you may want to contact include:
Good Practice Mentor