St Clare Hospice in Essex has launched a community-led Bereavement Café to support local people who have experienced the death of someone close to them.
The Bereavement Café takes place monthly at the hospice itself and separately at Old Park Meadow Natural Burial Ground. The aim is to offer people a place to meet and connect with others who have had similar experiences in losing a loved one. The event is a safe place to speak openly to others about shared experiences, all the while enjoying a tea and cake in a relaxed and informal environment – just like a real café.
Sally Muylders, Community Engagement Manager at St Clare Hospice, explains why they are running these events:
“Social isolation is fast becoming one of the nation’s most critical concerns in the UK, with bereavement at the top of the list for key risk factors.
“Our plans for 2019 at the hospice are to focus on tackling loneliness and social isolation in our local communities, which includes everybody facing death, dying and loss in West Essex and on the borders of East Hertfordshire. Eventually, we want to ensure that nobody in our community has to face this alone – and that everybody knows that their local hospice is here for them”
Michele Tavarone, a Social Worker within St Clare’s Patient & Family Support team, says:
“When we experience the death of someone close to us, it can feel like our whole world has turned upside down – with each of us experiencing grief in our own way. Sometimes, talking or listening to someone who understands can offer us comfort – even if just a little.
“At a Bereavement Café, it is okay to feel sad or upset, angry or frustrated – and it’s also okay to laugh and enjoy the time with others. It is okay to talk about your feelings, but it is also okay to not feel like you have to. There is no right or wrong way to experience grief, but sometimes, it can be good to simply chat over a cuppa and hear other people’s stories.”
The first event took place on February 15 and was attended by more than 15 people who were accompanied by St Clare staff and Bereavement Support Volunteers.
“It was lovely to see so many people come along to our first Bereavement Café. It’s so important to us that local residents have access to the support that is right for them. We’re feeling very humbled and encouraged by the wonderful attendance.”
To find out more about St Clare Hospice’s Bereavement Café contact Community Engagement Manager Sally Muylders, who is a co-organiser of the events.