Bereavement Information

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1 Bereavement Information About our Bereavement Support Service

2 I never knew that grief felt so much like fear C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

3 It is almost inevitable that at some point in our lives we will be faced with the death of someone whom we know and love. Yet, in spite of this fact, as a society we do not readily talk about death and the loss that we feel at such a time. There are many thoughts, feelings and emotions which can accompany anyone s death, some of which may be difficult to understand and accept. When someone close to us dies we can feel overwhelmed by our distress and feel isolated and frightened. This booklet has been written to help explain some of the things you might experience.

4 Bereavement Support Service This booklet gives some general information about Highland Hospice Bereavement Support Service which is available throughout the Highlands to anybody who has been bereaved by the death of a relative or friend cared for by the Hospice, irrespective of when or where the bereavement occurred. Our Bereavement Support Service is equally available to the families and friends of former patients of specialist nurses involved in palliative care Highand wide. The service is managed by Una Smale, the Family Support Coordinator, who is assisted by other members of the Family Support Team. Grief The death of a loved one can be a painful and devastating event. A large part of your world has gone, and it will never be the same again. Grief is the struggle to make sense of that loss and adjust to changes which have arisen. It can be a slow process of realisation, but something which cannot be hurried as it affects each of us in a unique way. Grieving is how we recover and how we find ways of living without the person who has died.

5 How might I feel? Whether death comes suddenly and unexpectedly or has been anticipated for a time, you are likely to be in a state of shock. You may feel numb and unable to take things in properly. Perhaps you may feel that you are in a dream and that everything is a bit unreal. This sense of unreality can continue for some time. Your thoughts and emotions may be quite unpredictable at times. You could even feel that you are going mad. However hard it is to believe at the time, these feelings are quite natural. Physically you might have little or no appetite, feel quite weak or be unable to sleep. Again, these reactions are all perfectly normal. Gradually the sense of shock and disbelief is likely to give way to different feelings. You might feel a sense of emptiness and a certain amount of pointlessness to the everyday tasks that have to be done. You may feel more withdrawn than normal and suffer a lack of confidence; you may experience anger that may be directed at anyone, including the dead person, doctors and nurses, or God. You may even get angry with yourself for being angry. It is quite possible that you may also experience a certain amount of guilt or regret about some things you may have done, or not done, for your loved one. You may feel that there were things you wanted to sort out before the death; things you may have wanted to say, but didn t. It is not uncommon for people who have been bereaved to imagine they hear the person who has died calling to them, sense their presence, or to expect them to come through the door at any minute. Although sometimes quite distressing these incidents are again, quite normal and are likely to lessen in time. Dealing with other people in the first few weeks can be stressful as some people might not know what to say to you.you may have to mention your loved one s name first in order to ease the awkwardness. Once that is done most people will be happy to talk about him or her. As time goes by Naturally, coming to terms with someone s death will take time. There is no set time scale for this and even when you think you have begun to cope well there may be things that reawaken your sadness. This might be the first anniversary of the death, or a birthday, Christmas or other times of significance for you. As you adjust to the loss you have suffered, you hopefully will begin to make plans and take an interest in things again. You will never forget the person who died, but life will be different. Our Bereavement Support Service could perhaps help you through this difficult time.

6 Services available as part of Bereavement Support One to One Counselling Not everybody needs or wants counselling since grieving affects each one of us differently. However, it can sometimes be difficult to share our thoughts and feelings with others whom we care about at a time when they too may be experiencing pain of loss. Talking to someone from outwith the family or circle of close friends often helps in expressing our varied thoughts and feelings and in dealing with the changes and adjustments that have to be made following a death. One to one counselling is available Highland wide. Support through a group From time to time Highland Hospice also offers support to people through a group. This gives the opportunity to meet others who have been bereaved, and may have had similar experiences. Please ask about when this will next take place in Inverness. Chaplaincy Chaplains offer spiritual and pastoral support to patients, their relatives and friends, and also staff. We can also arrange support from local churches or other faith groups as required. Chaplaincy support goes beyond purely religious needs, to offer more general spiritual care. This can be particularly relevant if you do not belong to any church, or simply describe yourself as not religious, but nevertheless have spiritual concerns. We can help to identify and explore the specific spiritual and religious issues that bereavement can raise. What really matters? What makes me afraid? What brings me joy? Why has this happened to me what sense can I make of it? What do I really believe now and how does it help me make sense of what s happening to me? Sometimes, deep feelings need some form of outward expression, and we may be able to help here, as well. We believe that everyone is unique and that any act of remembrance should be as personal as possible. This could include: Planning or conducting funerals. Our regular memorial service. Other, individualised symbolic acts, services and blessings.

7 Child Bereavement Support Help and advice is also available to parents/carers supporting a child who has been bereaved as a result of the death of a Hospice patient. Book of Remembrance Highland Hospice has a Book of Remembrance into which a loved one s name can be entered. Some weeks into bereavement a letter is sent to the family regarding this. The books for current and past years are kept in a quiet room at Highland Hospice and you are welcome to look at them at any time. Memorial Services to Remember As part of Highland Hospice s commitment to those who have been bereaved we hold an annual Memorial Service in Inverness on the first Saturday in June. This is advertised in the press and is open to anybody who wishes to remember a person in whose care Highland Hospice had been involved. For more recently bereaved people a special Time to Remember is held three times a year in Inverness. Invitations to attend this service are sent out about a month in advance. We also hold annual services throughout the Highlands. Again, these are advertised through local press. How can I make contact with the Bereavement Support Service? Generally speaking, a member of the Bereavement Team will make contact with a family member by letter approximately 6-8 weeks after the bereavement occurs. If you wish to use the Bereavement Support Service or would like to discuss any aspect of the service, write, telephone or Highland Hospice and ask for the Bereavement Support Service. Your message will be passed on and a member of the team will make contact with you as soon as possible. Bereavement Support Team Una Smale Family Support Services Coordinator/Counsellor Simon Spence Counsellor Eric Butlin Social Worker Mike Rattenbury Chaplain Ann Craig Outreach Counsellor All enquiries to: Lorna Jamieson Clinical Secretary Highland Hospice Ness House 1 Bishops Road Inverness IV3 5SB Telephone: Fax:

8 For further information please visit our website: or call You can find us on Facebook and Twitter. Highland Hospice, Ness House, 1 Bishops Road, Inverness IV3 5SB. Highland Hospice is a registered Scottish Charity No: SC011227

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