National Grief week has been set up to normalise the process of grief and help people to talk about how they are feeling and to help people to know how to talk about the topic. When early access to support is not offered then a bereavement can lead to serious mental health problems.
This year we are all incredibly excited at the prospect of a Christmas together with our loved ones after it was taken from us last year. It is a time of hope, excitement and cheer as it should be for everyone. However, it is also important to consider those who may be feeling differently. We cannot hide from the fact that there has been a great deal of loss over the last 18 months and for some this will have come from nowhere and have been a great shock. They need our support and contact, now maybe more than ever.
The NHS Trust and Blackpool FC Community Trust are among organisations across the Fylde Coast community coming together to support the week.
Jackie Brunton, Lead End of Life Care Nurse at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, said: “Grief has hit more of us than ever in the last 18 months. We want to encourage people to talk about grief and loss, to recognise the support that is available and how they can support each other.
“Grief affects everyone at some time in our lives, and along with the specialist services available to help, it’s often the small things we can do for each other that make a difference.
“This year the awareness week is promoting the benefits of activities including stopping for a chat, checking in on neighbours, putting the kettle on and going for a walk-and-talk.”
At BFCCT our community programmes are designed to support people in many different ways however, what we do know is that there are a number of people who attend who have lost their partners.
Rachel from our Community Navigation Team attended a session of Extra Time at Holy Trinity Church and chatted to a group of people who were willing to discuss their loss and how the group has helped them. The key words that came across and struck Rachel were company, laughter and friendship.
In their times of loneliness and isolation they found the courage to attend the sessions and join in the fun. It can be so difficult to attend a group for the first time, especially when you are grieving but it has been a lifeline to their mental wellbeing. They have formed friendships and spend the week looking forward to seeing one another again.
One attendee stated that she sees the same faces everyday in her care home and she looks forward to spending time with different people on a Monday afternoon.
Thanks to funding from People’s Postcode Lottery, some participants attend through the Pool Together referral programme. One lady was referred by her bereavement counsellor who had mentioned the group to her but she was anxious about attending. She contacted the Community Navigation team at BFCCT who spent time with her over the phone on a number of sessions and then met her on her first session at Extra Time, joining her for a cup of tea until the time felt right to leave her with her new group of friends. She has attended every week since and is looking forward to the Christmas lunch.
On a final note from Rachel, “To every member of our community in and around Blackpool, I hope you have the most incredible Christmas and if you know someone who may have been affected by grief then checking in on them to make sure that they are feeling ok may just be the Christmas wish they have been searching for. However, if you are feeling lonely, then try to speak out and talk to others, this will have a positive impact on yourself and your story could become someone’s hope.
If you would like to speak to someone about this programme please contact email@example.com
Members of the public can show their support by lighting a candle or displaying a light in a window throughout the week. Meanwhile, Blackpool Tower is among the landmarks being lit up orange as a symbol of our community’s togetherness this year.