Patrons: Bill Beaumont, Mark Lawrenson & Tisha Merry Reg Charity No: 512186

At St Catherine’s Hospice we try to consider every aspect of palliative care and this continues when your loved one has died. We are here to offer support to relatives and friends to help them cope with their grief.

St Catherine’s provides bereavement support through all of its community and hospice- based teams, made up of a range of people including doctors, nurses, social workers and volunteer chaplains.

It’s important to remember that there is no set timescale for bereavement and everyone’s experience is different. The Bereavement Support Team therefore provides a number of different ways to help, working either on a one to one basis or in a group – whichever you feel would best meet your needs.

A one to one service can be provided for bereavement support or counselling – please see the section on Practical and Emotional Bereavement Services below.

In addition, a Bereavement Therapy Group is held annually and runs for seven sessions on a fortnightly basis. It is a closed group and attendance is by invitation only. It is facilitated by Hospice social workers and run in conjunction with Vine House in Preston, another local charity. We work closely with Vine House to ensure the needs of bereaved people are met in the locality we serve.  These groups bring together bereaved relatives and friends and enable people to explore their own grief in a safe, supportive environment.

On-going support is also available thanks to our Bereavement Support Group, which meets on the second Wednesday of each month from 7.30pm and 9pm. This mutual-support group has been instrumental in helping bereaved families and carers since the Hospice was first established in 1985. Anyone who is bereaved is invited to join, not just those known to St Catherine’s Hospice. Click here to visit our events page for more information.

For a helpful guide about practical advice in the event of a death and useful contacts, click here to download our Bereavement Booklet or contact our Family Support Team on 01772 629171 to request a copy.

Understanding Bereavement

The work of the Family Support Team continues beyond the death of a person because bereavement can sometimes be a devastating experience, causing stronger emotions than someone may have ever felt before.

Grief is a very personal experience and we all respond differently because we are unique and each person’s grief follows its own path.  We may be affected by our personal experience, culture, age, the relationship we had with the deceased, how death occurred, what else is happening at the time, support or lack of it from others such as family and friends, and so on.

What is important is that you allow yourself time to grieve, be kind to yourself and adapt to your loss in the way that is right for you.

You may or may not experience the following:

Possible Feelings of Grief

  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Shock
  • Yearning
  • Disbelief
  • Denial
  • Sadness

Possible Physical Experiences

  • Disturbed Sleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Apathy
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability

Grief can appear at different times and can sweep over us unexpectedly. Although these experiences, feelings and emotions can make us so overwhelmed to the extent where we may feel as if ‘I’m going mad’, please be reassured that these are normal reactions to loss.

Actually, sometimes people feel guilty because they don’t have some of these feelings at a time of grief and that can be just as confusing. It means it’s vitally important to keep remembering that we are all different and react differently to situations that occur around us.

Grief is sometimes described as a process that we go through in response to a loss. It can be very difficult indeed and that struggle is not a sign that one is somehow ‘a failure’ or ‘not coping’. Grief is unavoidable and yet, it can be managed over time.

Practical and Emotional Bereavement Support

Bereavement Benefits

Bereavement benefits are available to some widows/widowers and civil partners, dependent on both whether you are below state pension age, and on the deceased person’s national insurance contributions.

If you have difficulties with funeral expenses there is financial help available via the Social Fund called a Funeral Grant, dependent on if you are in receipt of certain benefits.

There is a time limit for claiming bereavement benefits and funeral grants and it would be beneficial to take advice from your local job centre as soon as possible, as a delay may disqualify you from claiming.

Also, when someone dies in your household and they are in receipt of state benefits – inclusive of retirement pensions – it may be that you need to have your own benefits reviewed, including housing benefit and council tax. We therefore suggest you seek advice from your local council, Welfare Rights, your local Job Centre, Pensions Service and Bereavement Advice Centre.

Emotional Support

Bereavement Support at the Hospice is provided in various ways, including:

Bereavement Therapy Group

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This is a ‘closed’ group which means that once the group has started no one else can join that particular group.  This brings a sense of stability and reassurance to members.

A new group is established annually and bereaved people known to the Hospice and palliative care teams are invited.

The sessions take the form of structured meetings in that each has a theme relating to bereavement and general wellbeing.

Bereavement Support Group

This group has been established at the Hospice since its inception and is known to many as ‘Catherine’s Wheel’.

The group provides mutual support to bereaved people and is open to any bereaved person, not just those known to St Catherine’s Hospice.

It has an informal structure in that there are themes to some sessions or occasionally speakers attend, but most often the group simply meets for a friendly coffee evening. The meetings are held at the Hospice on the second Wednesday of each month from 7.30 pm to 9.00 pm.

Bereavement Counselling:

This can be provided by the Hospice if requested. The Hospice is an organisational member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

Likewise if you declined Bereavement Support at the time of your loved one’s death and you now feel you need some support, please contact the Hospice and ask to speak to the Family Support Team.

Support for Children and Young People

Vine House Cancer Help Ltd is pleased to announce it’s new Children and Young People’s Bereavement Service.

Until recently Vine House were only able to support bereaved children where it was cancer related death. However they are now able to extend this support to all bereaved children and young people. Part of the project involves working with local schools and training and supporting teaching staff to support their bereaved pupils.

The children and young people can access one to one support from trained counselling staff at Vine House which enables them to be able to talk of their loss and sadness and to cope with the huge impact that grief can have on family life in particular. Many of the children may have experienced the death of a parent and with this there may be secondary losses such as a change of home, school and financial hardship. They may find it hard to concentrate at school and if the remaining parent is struggling with their grief they may feel for a time they have lost both parents. The only other services in the area are the Linden Centre at Blackpool and Derian House at Chorley.

Vine House has worked closely with Derian House and St Catherines Hospice and held a Treasure Day for bereaved children with Derian House last year. The name of the new service is Stride.

Download the poster here

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