Our charity has been providing free support groups for people who have lost their loved ones to cancer since early 2011. The aim of the support groups is to create regular spaces for people to share stories and experiences with others who have experienced a similar kind of loss.
We now run both in-person and online support groups. The support groups are open to any adults who have lost a loved one to cancer or Covid-19, and are of a drop-in nature, which means people can come every month or whenever they feel like they need to. Our online support groups require registration so that we can ensure they do not get too crowded.
The support groups are facilitated by qualified and trainee psychologists and other professionals, but these support groups are not formally therapeutic – they are peer support groups. This means they do not provide formal therapy or follow specific structures or themes. We keep these groups that way because we know that for a lot of people, their biggest need is just to speak to others who have gone through something similar.
Our support group sessions address the topics and emotions that arise for our attendees on the day instead of having pre-planned sub-topics to discuss. We know that coping with grief can be an unpredictable experience, and therefore, we want to give you a space to talk about whatever you need on the day.
If you are looking for a more formal type of therapeutic support, we provide that too! You can see more information on our therapy groups by clicking here.
Next support group
We most typically spend the time sharing our experiences in our confidential and non-judgmental space, although sometimes we end up just catching up over coffee and cake too (speaking informally with others in a similar position to you can feel hugely relieving). People attending the group tend to share memories and experiences, both happy and difficult, however, there is no rules about having to speak. You are more than welcome to attend and just listen.
We provide free refreshments at our in-person support groups, and aim to have some delicious snacks to go around. Providing tasty refreshments is a purposeful action on our behalf – we know how difficult it can be to go along to something new and we want you to feel as comfortable as possible. Cake helps!
We also have a growing library in our support groups with a variety of books on bereavement and information leaflets. Most of our books are recommendations from attendees. You are more than welcome to borrow a book or two and bring them back when you have finished them – there is no rush to return them. And if one of our books significantly helps you – please keep it!
After our online support groups we send around a list of useful resources, so you too can benefit from the extra recommendations even if you cannot make it to an in-person support group.
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The whole point of our supportive events is to bring together people who have experienced something similar. Our support groups create a space for peer support where people can get advice from others in a similar position and hear how they cope. This is different to individual support, which can be very helpful but doesn’t always allow for hearing from and sharing with others.
Our events aim to let people know that their experiences, as painful as they are, are a normal part of the bereavement process. For example, it is not unusual to experience a whole host of feelings, worries and body changes when grieving, and knowing that that’s normal can be a relief. Normalising our experiences can be one of the most helpful things when we feel low.
The most well-known bereavement models are staged models, which indicate that bereavement involves moving through specific emotions in a semi-linear fashion. We have learned that this is not the case. Bereavement is a human experience and it does not necessarily just get easier every day – it is a rollercoaster in which you will be up and down at unpredictable points in time, whether that be 6 months, 2 years, or 5 years down the line. We would say that bereavement is not something that goes away, but something that changes shape over time.
Our support is there for people at all stages of grief. The continuity that our events provide allows people to get support at any point they need it, safe in the knowledge that the space will always be there.
Our support groups don’t have an agenda; the sessions are led by the people who come along and what they feel they need to talk about on the day. Some of our team members will be there to help facilitate events, but it’s all about what you want and need to talk about. This is for you.
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All groups are currently being hosted online due to the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue with our in-person groups as soon as we are able to do so.