Facing Loss Support Group where all arrive as strangers but leave as friends
Finding yourself bewildered and suffering waves of emotion and grief, after losing someone important in your life, is an enormous challenge for any one person.
Pilgrims Hospices team of counsellors know only too well how overwhelming such dark times can be. The team provide the opportunity for family and friends of hospice patients to share experiences with other people bereaved at a similar time; helping them to understand the impact of grief, and developing strategies to help cope in such difficult times.
Earlier in the year, Pilgrims counsellors Louise Evans and Marion O’Donnell worked closely with members of their ‘Facing Loss’ support group, to provide a safe space to talk and share thoughts and experiences with others who are also coming to terms with loosing someone special.
Although we are unable to meet as face to face groups at the moment, we are #Still Here Still Caring and providing the ‘Facing Loss’ bereavement support as a virtual group, via Zoom calls, until it is safer for us to be with our group users again
Marion – Counsellor
The group has remained in touch by creating a What’s App group and recently met up for a teddy bear’s picnic in St. Augustine’s Priory, Bilsington where social distancing is carried out. Sadly due to weather they had to go inside but it certainly never stopped them enjoying each other’s company.
Marion told us: “It was clear to see the group truly made a wonderful connection and even after the sessions were finished, they continue to support each other with their What’s App group along with meeting up for picnics, lunches and more recently a Birthday celebration. Hopefully when social distancing is a little more relaxed, their coffee stops in a garden centre will resume.”
Sara Barton-Dodson, a support group user said: “My husband Steve passed away in August 2019 whilst in Pilgrims Hospices care at Ashford. He had seen Marion in one to one therapy sessions, therefore I had already met her and knew how counselling had been of benefit to Steve during his treatment for terminal cancer.
“Marion invited me to join the ‘Facing Loss’ group; I knew it would be a good support network for me when coping with the loss of my husband.
“Steve was just 59 years old when he passed away, he had been fighting his cancer for three years. I made a promise to him that I would always stay safe and the ‘Facing Loss’ support group has helped me to do just that.
The group really helped to make a positive difference for me, within our small group, we’ve made firm connections and friendships; I’ve most definitely found many benefits in sharing experiences
“The groups are held at the hospices in Canterbury, Ashford and Thanet. I found them a welcome opportunity to share thoughts and conversations with people who had also lost loved ones. The benefits of talking, sharing your feelings and experiences was like lifting a weight from my shoulders.
“After Steve passed away, people would often say how well I looked; all I really wanted to do was dissolve in to tears, I felt dreadful, it was a completely devastating time. Coming to the group sessions has helped me to become much stronger; cry when I need to and, laugh out loud too!
“Marion and Louise were quite wonderful, with a wealth of knowledge and understanding, they helped all of us to develop coping techniques to guide us through difficult times.
“As the friendships in the group developed we shared photographs of our loved ones, which allowed everyone to know a little more about those loved ones lost.
“The group really helped to make a positive difference for me, within our small group, we’ve made firm connections and friendships; I’ve most definitely found many benefits in sharing experiences.”
Marion added: “Although we are unable to meet as face to face groups at the moment, we are #Still Here Still Caring and providing the ‘Facing Loss’ bereavement support as a virtual group, via Zoom calls, until it is safer for us to be with our group users again.”