What to say and what not to say! – This leaflet from The Compassionate Friends is about supporting bereaved parents in particular, but it contains really good advice that can apply to any bereaved person.
“A Valley Journal – Surviving Bereavement” book – by Abi May, Onwards & Upwards Publishers 2014. Available on Amazon (paperback, hardcover and ebook), and can be ordered from Waterstones and some independent retailers, or from Abi directly.
Have you been bereaved? Would you like to meet and help others in a similar situation for friendship and mutual support?
Following a bereavement, many people can feel lonely or isolated. Even with a network of friends, colleagues and relatives, individuals can still feel they have no one to turn to. We’re here to help.
Working with the British Red Cross, Cruse Bereavement Care has established More than Words. We’re providing new opportunities for hundreds of bereaved individuals to meet with others in supportive environments and feel better connected in their local areas.
More Than Words is part of the British Red Cross’ Connecting Communities programme, supported by its partnership with the Co-op to highlight and tackle loneliness and social isolation in the UK.
How we can help
Feelings of loneliness and isolation do not always follow bereavement(s) – there is no right or wrong way to feel. However, for many, the death of another, especially if the person was very close, can create or augment feelings of being alone.
If you ever feel alone following a bereavement, More than Words can help you connect to other people nearby and enjoy the benefits of feeling more involved in your local area.
Our wide-range of peer-led (member-led) activities are designed to promote inclusion and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. We do this by:
Supporting you to understand that you’re not alone in feeling alone. Bereavement can often increase feelings of loneliness and isolation. We’ll help you meet other people with similar experiences who might be feeling the same way.
Providing opportunities for you to take part in a variety of local activities matched to your interests. These could include (but are not limited to) coffee & cake meet-ups, walking groups and reading clubs.
Encouraging self-help and peer support – a service that you can turn to instead of, or as well as, other support services.
How you can get involved
More Than Words is available in twelve locations across all four nations of the UK: Bedfordshire, Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Whether you live in one of these areas or nearby, you can get involved by:
Becoming a More than Words Champion – are you passionate about helping others and want to engage in a range of fun social activities? With our support, help co-run a support group in your area
Joining a group – meet up and take part in activities with other people with similar interests and experiences
Volunteering in other ways such as providing admin support to a local Cruse branch or participating in fundraising activities
For more information, please send us an email: More than Words (email@example.com). Alternatively, feel free to call, or leave us an answerphone message on: 02089399534 If there is not a More Than Words service near you, other support could be available. Visit the British Red Cross website to find out about other Connecting Communities programmes, or call the freephone Cruse Bereavement Care helpline on 0808 808 1677.
How do most people experience grief? Is it in neat packages or distinct stages?
This illustration shows two models of grief.
On the left, there’s the linear model – nice and tidy.
On the right, someone used this lovely tidy diagram and added in their own experience. It’s a big muddle and a big mess.
Here’s a quote from Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who originally wrote about “5 stages of grief”. It’s a quote from a later time in her work:
The [5 stages] were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
I’m not the first to conclude that there are no distinct stages of grief. They are merely useful labels to describe what the griever may or may not experience.
(P.S. Sorry I do not know the creator of that illustration in order to credit them.)
Watching this video struck me as a good illustration of what being a grief companion is about.
Think about the struggle, with your legs quivering under you, just wondering if you’re going to make it through the most difficult time of your life. And then someone comes along…
WATCH HERE (external link from spring 2017 – I hope it still works)
This is the moment a London Marathon runner shows amazing sportsmanship and helps a fellow competitor over the finish line at the end of Sunday’s race. Swansea Harrier Matthew Rees sees David Wyeth of Chorlton Runners struggling to put one foot in front of the other with just 200m of the course remaining. Showing incredible selflessness, Rees slows down and supports Wyeth over the final metres to the finish. [The Guardian]
David still had to make his own journey to the finish line, but having Matthew and another volunteer at his side is what helped make that possible. Would he have done it alone?
We each have our own journey on the marathon of grief, but having a friend or even a complete stranger stand beside us, even for just a few minutes, can make such a big difference.