Family and Bereavement Support Team
Our specially trained Family and Bereavement Support Team is made up of a Family Support Coordinator and Family & Bereavement Support Worker, along with a team of highly trained and supervised volunteers, based at the hospice.
We understand that life-shortening illnesses affect not only the patient, but also their network of family, friends and carers. Our Family and Bereavement Support Service provides psychological, emotional and spiritual support for patients throughout their illness and for their families and carers, leading up to and following bereavement. People may need varying levels of help at any given time, and we respect this, so the support we offer is tailored to meet individual needs wherever possible. We work to support you through all the varied and often confusing feelings you may experience.
Who is the service for?
Our Support Service is available to anyone over the age of 18 who is experiencing loss, irrespective of time lapsed, cause or relationship. There is also no requirement to have had previous contact with the hospice services.
Here & Now – Covid -19
Bereavement at any time is hard. Bereavement during a period of isolation with restricted movement and limited contact with family and friends is the hardest thing possible.
Please be assured therefore, that our Family Support and Bereavement service is working hard to adapt our services in every way we can to provide the support that so many people will need. We hope that the few thoughts and ideas below will help you to feel less alone and know that people care.
Cruse Bereavement Care have also produced some useful information on grief and isolation: https://www.cruse.org.uk/coronavirus/grieving-and-isolation
Thoughts and ideas to help you feel less alone
and know people care
We have put together some gentle advice and tips to help, please click here to download this information: Thoughts and ideas to help you feel less alone
What support is available?
We offer a range of different support options including: (please click on the option you are interested in to find out more)
We are currently unable to provide face to face support, however we continue to provide 1-2-1 telephone support.
Many people find it helpful to talk with someone other than a member of their family or a close friend. After an initial assessment, you will be offered confidential one to one emotional support with a trained and supervised support volunteer by telephone or face to face whichever you prefer. You will be offered up to ten support sessions with dates and times flexible to your needs and availability.
“Having 1-2-1 support has allowed me to open up and talk about my grief because everyday life is busy and gives little time to think and express feelings. I would like to say a big thank you to my Bereavement Support worker who has truly helped me and made me feel comfortable to talk about how I truly feel about losing my mum. It has somehow made it a little easier”
What kinds of things do people talk about?
Different people talk about different things, it depends on their situation. There is no right or wrong subject to talk about. You might wish to talk about how you are feeling: guilt, regret, pain, relief, sadness, happiness and anger are just a few feelings you may experience before or after a death. Talking about them can help reduce their intensity and help you make sense of why you feel the way you do.
Unfortunately we have had to cancel all group sessions at present due to Covid-19.
However we are providing both telephone and digital support. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team if you require any further information or support.
Our Make, Do and Mend up-cycling workshop is based within our Furniture Warehouse at our Living Well Centre at 299 to 301 Duke St, Barrow in Furness.
The workshop provides a chance for bereaved men and women, those caring for their partner or loved one or those living with their own life-shortening illness to come together to share experiences, ideas and enthusiasm , and ultimately, to help each other through loss. The workshops are held throughout the year on either a Wednesday morning or afternoon.
“I decided to join the Make, Do and Mend Workshop to learn something new whilst receiving support. It was good to talk to others who were experiencing loss and to know that I wasn’t on my own. There was no expectation for me to talk about my loss. However, I found myself opening up at how I was feeling and also supported others within the group”.
Our Bereavement Craft group is on hold but usually takes place each Wednesday afternoon 1-3 pm at our Living Well Centre at 299 to 301 Duke St, Barrow in Furness. The craft group is an informal group providing an opportunity for people to meet others in a similar position to themselves through being creative
Our Bereavement Support Café is currently postponed but usually takes place on the first Friday of each month at the Living Well Centre, Duke Street. Barrow (10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon).
The aim of the Bereavement Café is to provide a drop-in session for those coping with bereavement. The drop-in is not designed to be a counselling session; it is a supportive environment for reflection and conversation, a place where people will be able to find mutual support and encouragement when they need it most.
All sessions will be overseen by Hospice staff and volunteers who will be able to offer further advice and guidance.
“I visit the café for some company following the death of my wife. The group are all so welcoming and supportive”
Online Bereavement Group
In July 2017 we set up a closed Facebook page to support people digitally recognising that evenings and weekends can often be the most difficult times. Our online support group provides a safe platform for people to share experiences, ask questions and chat to people who maybe in a similar position and who support each other.
Monthly informal coffee evenings are held for our online group members. These are held in the Orangery café at St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston on the last Thursday of each month. (18:00 p.m. to 19:30 pm.). Some members of our support team will be there to chat with you and answer any questions you may have. (Unfortunately we are unable to hold these coffee evenings at present due to Covid-19, however we are holding twice weekly zoom meetings for the group on Thursday mornings at 11am and Sunday evenings at 7pm)
Here’s what members of the group think-
“With the support of the Online Group staff and volunteers at the Hospice. I have found the strength to remember with love rather than sadness”.
“In these strange times I have been so grateful to read posts, have the group support and someone at the end of a message or phone line. So important to know you aren’t alone”
“This is ideal for me as I am recently widowed and not wanting to be face to face with my grief and hope I can still use this group site as I don’t drive and would have to take a bus or possibly a taxi so this is a good thing for me I’m getting a lot from what other people are saying so thank you and your doing a grand service”
If you would like to join our online support group please click the link or search for St Mary’s Hospice Bereavement Support on Facebook.
Meet the team
Our specially trained Family and Bereavement Support Team is made up of a Family Support Coordinator and Family & Bereavement Support Worker, along with a team of highly trained and supervised volunteers.
I have been involved with St Mary’s Hospice since 1988: starting with fundraising for the Hospice as part of the Ulverston Support Group. In 1996 I did my training to become a Bereavement Volunteer, and in 2018 I became a staff member of the Family Support Team. This year marks 25 years of supporting patients and families at the Hospice and in the community: “It has been an absolute privilege to support so many people over the years, when they are facing one of the most difficult times in their lives.”
I started work at the Hospice in January 2016, originally I worked with the hospice@home team as a health care assistant, after a few months doing this I then went to work on the in- patient unit in the same role. In September 2016 I began a foundation degree at UCLAN Preston to become an Assistant Practitioner, I completed this and graduated in December 2018. Since then I have taken on the role of Assistant Practitioner Bereavement Coordinator, within this role I provide bereavement and pre bereavement support to patients and their families. Our team also receives referrals from the wider community who can also access support from our service. Myself and my colleagues coordinate these referrals and we have a wonderful team of volunteers that we allocate clients to for support. The team of volunteers are all given in house training by ourselves at the Hospice.
I joined the St Mary’s family in 2019 as the Welcome Coordinator and Administrator at the Living Well Centre in Barrow. The centre provides a space for people living with any advancing illness and those who have been bereaved. Activity focuses on promoting independence, learning about self-management of illness, encouraging friendship and fun.
I share my role with a colleague and as the first point of contact for everyone visiting or calling the Living Well Centre, we ensure users of the building receive a warm welcome and a comfortable and safe experience whilst on the premises. The centre receives lots of enquiries by telephone and in person that are directed to the most suitable service for their needs.
Due to the pandemic, the centre has closed to public groups for the time being. However, this has meant that I have been able to adapt my role to provide administrative support to the Family and Bereavement team who are working from the building at this extremely busy time.
For me, the most rewarding part of working for St Mary’s is engaging with families and helping to make a difference to them at what can often be a very difficult time in their lives.
You can refer yourself or a family member (with their consent) by phoning the hospice on 01229 580305. If you prefer, you can ask another health professional to refer you.
We hope the following booklet will provide you with some help, practical advice and reassurance during your bereavement:
to download a copy: