Our Bereavement Group
As we head towards our 20th year in business, one of the things we are most proud about is our wonderful Bereavement Group (which we like to call BG’s). Glenys and Stephen launched it officially 14 years ago but, before this, we always recognised the importance of continuing to be there for our families after a funeral has taken place. Occasionally, somebody would knock on the door and we’d invite them to stay for a cup of tea or perhaps they were popping in to talk about a memorial or to collect their loved one’s ashes. We’d keep talking to them and realised there was a need there to create something more structured.
“What we noticed from the start was that people would really tell us how they were feeling after the death of a loved one, saying they didn’t want to burden their family, particularly if they were feeling low too,” says Glenys. “BG’s started out small but, from the very beginning, we saw friendships developing and watched people open up about the loved one they had lost, confident they were in a safe space and also comfortable that they were talking to somebody who was in a similar position to them.”
Now we have two groups. One is smaller and is for those first initial meetings. There Sue Carswell, a trained counsellor, will talk about the journey into grief and tools for coping. We’ve also had more practical talks on dealing with finances in those early days and even home DIY tips – for people who realised perhaps that their partner did all of that stuff. The option then is for folk to move into the large group, although some people just go straight into that one anyway. It depends on how they feel and their circumstances.
“The larger group meets once a month on a Saturday morning and is chatty and supportive and, to be honest, anyone observing us would struggle to believe that they are looking at a room of bereaved people,” says Glenys. “But, that’s not to say that they aren’t struggling and everyone is just wonderful at noticing if somebody is quieter or understanding if it’s a particular anniversary or date.”
The Saturday morning group often has a speaker and Glenys takes the time to secure some really fascinating ones, as well as talking to members between the meetings and making sure that the families we support are invited to join us.
Talks over the next few months include Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare; the Fire Brigade (on keeping safe at home); nutrition and wellbeing; and a talk from a retired policeman about his life in the force.
Glenys continues: “BG’s – which now has more than 100 members - is a truly amazing group of people; existing members are fantastic at welcoming and supporting newer members and some lovely friendships have developed. They comfort each other and offer support at times when it’s needed and they also provide practical help. We often hear of members providing lifts to hospital appointments etc, while others join together for cinema visits and walks.”
As a group, we also organise trips and these have included theatre trips to London and the coast. Glenys and 32 members of BG’s are now enjoying on their first holiday together (although, over the years, members have independently been away with each other). They are heading to the Cotswolds and so looking forward to it.
Here are some of things members have said about BG’s over the years:
“If it wasn’t for BG’s, there are some members who possibly might not go out socially, so it’s fantastic that Glenys organises this group. I think we’ve all become a little stronger, more independent and more confident as a result of BG’s.”
“New people are always welcomed and immediately accepted into the fold. I look forward to our meetings and thoroughly enjoy them. We are not a gloomy bunch, we laugh and have fun. It is all about helping each other to come to terms with our new lives, our different selves and taking forward steps."
“It’s a great bunch of people and I’ve enjoyed getting involved. I’m quite a busy chap, there are some members who rarely leave the house and for them this group is invaluable. I always make a point of chatting with members who I know don’t get out much. Due to way of the world, there are more ladies than men who are invited to join, so I make a point of encouraging men I know to keep coming along once they’ve started, as it’s a fantastic group.”
If there are members who are struggling, and sometimes this can happen even a little while after joining the group, as grief is never linear, we can help. As members of SAIF, we can offer members access to six free sessions of bereavement support through SAIFCare, which is delivered by a trained counsellor.