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Bereavement

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Bereavement

Most people will experience bereavement at some time in their life. Everyone reacts to their loss in their own unique way Grief can be very painful and may give rise to feelings and thoughts that you don’t expect. You may find the information in this leaflet helpful. ...read full leaflet

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Candle: Children and Funerals

Parents and carers want to do the best for their children, and it is very hard to know what is best for them when a death has happened. You are trying to come to terms with what has happened, cope with painful and difficult feelings, and there are so many decisions and choices to be made. This leaflet has been written to help you think about your children and the funeral, why they should have the chance to go, and how to answer some of their questions. ...read full leaflet

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Candle: Children, Young People and Loss

St Christopher’s has been providing bereavement counselling to patients’ families for over 50 years. St Christopher’s Candle Child Bereavement Service extends this support to all children, young people and their families in the south east London area, covering the boroughs of Croydon, Bromley, Lewisham, Southwark and Lambeth. Any parent, carer, teacher or healthcare professional can make a referral to the Candle Child Bereavement Service. Young people aged over 16 can refer themselves. We also offer a specialist training, advice and consultancy service to schools and other agencies working with children facing bereavement. ...read full leaflet

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Candle: How to help your bereaved child

How to help your bereaved child You may be bereaved yourself, and may be finding it hard to keep your child’s needs in mind with all that is happening.The following points are a guide to help you focus on what is going on for them. ...read full leaflet

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Candle: Someone close has died

How to help a bereaved young person – a guide for adults Every year many young people experience the death of someone they are close to. Some of these deaths will be sudden and some will be after a long illness, but all losses can be difficult for teenagers. This leaflet is designed to help you understand some of the aspects of a death that are hard for young people and to give some ideas about how you can offer support. ...read full leaflet

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Candle: Someone has died suddenly

Helping your child Everyone is very shocked when someone dies suddenly. There has been no time to prepare and often no warning that the person was going to die. Shock affects adults and children physically and emotionally, and some of the effects you may notice are feeling dizzy or sick, shaky, shivery, hot and cold. After a shock we often feel very unsafe for a while, and need to take things quietly. This leaflet mentions some of the things you and your child may be feeling. ...read full leaflet

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Frequently asked questions about ‘next of kin’ and power of attorney

When you are referred to our services, one of the questions we will ask you is about your ‘next of kin’. This is a term that most people have come across without knowing exactly what it means. This leaflet aims to explain it. ...read full leaflet

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Help during your bereavement

Is it normal to feel this way? When someone who is important to us dies it can feel unbearable, as though our whole world has changed. As unique individuals, our response to loss is also likely to be unique, and can be affected by the relationship we had with the person who died. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Ways to think about grief “In some ways the pain of grief itself stayed much the same … but as time went on my world expanded so it felt less suffocating” Dr Lois Tonkin (2006) Dr Lois Tonkin, who writes about loss and grief, suggests a helpful way that we can think about grief: At first it can feel as if grief has filled your entire life As the weeks and months go by, something important happens. The grief may stay the same, but your life starts to grow around it. You will have new experiences and begin to find moments of enjoyment Eventually your life will grow around the grief. It will always be there, and it may grow bigger at difficult times, but it will not dominate your life. Some reactions to grief Emotions “I can’t stop crying and I feel really angry” Grief can have a powerful effect on how we feel. Sadness is a natural response to grief, although not exclusively expressed through tearfulness. We may be surprised or shocked by some of the feelings we are experiencing or we might not be able to feel anything at all. Some may find it easier or harder than others to express and cope with the emotions they are experiencing. This range of responses to loss is normal. Sleeping “I can’t sleep and I’m exhausted” Grieving can be exhausting. Some people notice they are sleeping more than usual, while others have restless sleep, interrupted by dreams, or they might wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep. For others sleep continues as usual. Many sleep hygiene tips are widely accessible online including mindfulness and sleep apps. Keeping a bedtime routine, having a relaxing bath, exercising or avoiding caffeine, amongst other things, may help. Eating “I’m not interested in food” or “I can’t stop eating” We may feel we can’t be bothered to cook or we don’t feel hungry. Alternatively, we may be comfort eating or drinking more than usual. Try to eat at least one healthy meal a day. It is important to look after ourselves as best we can as this is likely to have a positive effect on our overall wellbeing. Concentration “There’s so much to do but I can’t put my mind to it” Grieving can affect every part of us; mind body and spirit. It might be hard to concentrate, maybe your thoughts are confused or you just don’t know where to start. It’s important to be gentle and compassionate and not expect too much of yourself. Health “I don’t feel so good, both physically and in myself” It is not uncommon to experience physical and/or mental health symptoms and it is important not to neglect your health. Your GP can talk you through some options which might help. Physical exercise like a walk, going to the gym or gardening can be beneficial to wellbeing. Anxiety “There’s a knot in my stomach” When things happen that are out of our control we can sometimes feel anxious or worried. Looking at ways we have coped with stress and loss in the past can often help us manage some of the things we are experiencing at present. There are many different techniques and activities which can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and different people will find things which work for them. Will I ever feel the same again? “I thought I was coping but now I’m going backwards” When someone close to us dies, we know that life has changed and will never be exactly the same as before, but over time there will be an adjustment to this different life which will gradually become the new normal. Grief has its own pace so it will be different for each one of us. Bereavement is rarely experienced in a straight line so it’s natural that some days our bereavement will be more or less bearable than other days. It can often be affected by remembering through seasonal changes. Family and support networks “I don’t want to burden my family and friends” We often hear that family and friends have been great but they have busy lives or they are bereaved too. We might not feel able to talk about how we really feel or we might have different ways of expressing grief and communicating than other family members. It can be helpful to find someone you know who is patient, kind and will listen to what you want to say about how you are feeling. Talking is part of the healing process. Some may find comfort in their faith and spirituality. Practicalities “Where do I start?” It can seem like there is so much to do with new tasks to learn. Some people find it helpful to make a list of family/friends who could give practical help or advice, or to accept support already offered. Tackle things at your own pace and in your own time according to what works for you. Are there things I can do that help? It’s OK to have time off from your grief. Give yourself a welcome distraction if you feel able, like a cup of coffee with a friend or watching a film Being outdoors around nature is often beneficial for your mental wellbeing Find a healthy outlet to express your grief – through exercise, talking, journalling or painting Let others know what support or help you need. Here to help you St Christopher’s Bereavement Team Telephone 020 8768 4599 Email info@stchristophers.org.uk Candle Child Bereavement Service Telephone 020 8768 4533 Email info@stchristophers.org.uk Anxiety UK A charity offering support with anxiety. www.anxietyuk.org.uk Bereavement Advice Centre Practical information and advice soon after a death. Telephone 0800 634 9494 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) www.bereavementadvice.org CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) Telephone 0808 802 5858 (daily, 5pm-12am) www.thecalmzone.net GriefChat A free online space to text and talk. www.griefchat.co.uk (Mon-Fri, 9am-9pm) The Loss Foundation Offering virtual support groups for those who have lost a loved one to cancer. www.thelossfoundation.org Samaritans A free 24/7 safe place to talk, for those in crisis Telephone 116 123 Email jo@samaritans.org www.samaritans.org Shout A 24/7 UK text service for people in crisis. Text 85258 Silverline A helpline for anyone over 55 years of age Telephone 0800 4 70 80 90 (daily, 24 hours) www.thesilverline.org.uk Video resources A channel for guided mindfulness and meditation www.youtube.com/user/getsomeheadspace A TedTalk by Dr Susan Delaney about different grieving styles www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_HVeL99eK4 A TedTalk by bereavement specialist Julia Samuel MBE about the power of pain www.youtube.com/watch?v=flijEwhjW0M ...read full leaflet

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Preparing for a funeral

A funeral is a significant event. It may not be easy to think about, whether your own or that of a relative; for example how best to commemorate a life, what to include or leave out. However, planning a funeral can be helpful for those who are approaching the end of life and is one way of ensuring that their wishes are respected. ...read full leaflet

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Social work and welfare for the St Christopher’s Group

The social workers and welfare officers employed by St Christopher’s provide expert support and advice to St Christopher’s patients and their families, and they can either visit you at home or see you in the Anniversary Centre at St Christopher’s, or meet you somewhere else if you prefer. ...read full leaflet

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