We know that it can be difficult to open up in front of strangers, which is why all of our charity’s facilitators are trained to run sessions in a similar way by creating a warm, welcoming and supportive space in which people are welcome to share, listen, and enjoy the cake!
Whilst you may notice that you occasionally meet a new facilitator there will always be continuity, i.e. if you go to two consecutive sessions you will see at least one of the facilitators at both. This is something we always aim to provide, and we hope that this will create some sense of continuity as well as allowing us the chance to provide varied support with the input of different people.
Most attendees share with us that the real value in the sessions comes from listening to and being listened to by others who have been through similar experiences to them. We appreciate that it can take a lot of courage and energy to bring ourselves to a support group, which is why we ask all attendees to support each other to feel safe in being in the space and sharing our thoughts, feelings and experiences. Thank you for helping to create such a cathartic and supportive space – you guys are great!
There seems to be a unanimous agreement at our events that talking helps, despite the fact that many people experience difficulty talking with close friends or family. Whilst they want to be helpful and supportive, they may fear upsetting you or simply feel at a loss as to what to say.
Interestingly, it can sometimes be more helpful speaking to people that you know less well but have been through similar experiences to you. Our groups provide this for you. Talking with friends and family can be hard but we recommend giving it a go! Perhaps we can tell them that talking actually helps you to feel better to help ease their fears that they will only upset you further by talking about bereavement. If someone says something which you find unhelpful or unsupportive, it is ok to let them know.
There is also nothing wrong with seeking professional support to help you cope with what is essentially the most difficult experience of your life. This has now been recognised in the medical guidelines; people might experience low mood, or trauma symptoms and need help dealing with it.
We recommend speaking to your GP, to one of our group facilitators, or consulting your local MIND website if you feel that you need some extra support and want to find out about how to access services. If you need immediate support, the Samaritans are a fantastic source of support and are available 24/7 on the telephone on 116 123.
You can find information on our next opportunities to find support on our calendar.
Dr Joey Carlisle