St Christopher’s Bereavement Service

Our adult bereavement service supports anyone whose relative or friend was cared for by St Christopher’s

When someone dies who is important to us, it can leave an empty space in our lives and it is natural to experience strong feelings

“I became more confident. I cried much less. I became less withdrawn, in short – I was happier than before”

Perhaps you feel sad that they are no longer with you, bad that you could not do enough, guilty about your relief that they no longer have to suffer illness or frailty, anxious about how your life will be changed. There may also be practical problems for you and other people who share your loss, such as children or family members.

Bereavement guidance

The leaflet Bereavement: help and support during your grief has been compiled to cover some of the things you may have been experiencing during your bereavement and lists some information and resources you may find helpful.

The booklet Supporting you after a death contains guidance on what to do after a death, advice on preparing and paying for the funeral, resources and information.

Bereavement support: how it works

Our adult bereavement service supports anyone whose relative or friend was cared for by St Christopher’s before they died.

You will be contacted by St Christopher’s a short time after their death to offer our condolences.

One to two weeks after their death you will be called by a member of our bereavement service to check in how you are in the very early stages of your grief.

If you feel it would be helpful to you, a further telephone call will be arranged at a mutually convenient time four to eight weeks after this.

If at anytime after the telephone call you feel that further more structured support would be beneficial, please contact us. A telephone meeting would then be arranged to find out how you are doing and what you are needing in order to work out what support would be best for you. The options at this point are one-to-one or group support.

One-to-one bereavement support

One-to-one bereavement support is an opportunity to talk about the consequences of your loss, in confidence, with someone who will be able to listen to your experience of grief. They can help you think through any changes you may need to make and find a way to a new life that includes remembering the person who has died in the way that you want.

Every loss is a very personal experience and no two people experience loss in the same way. Many people find that it helps to talk with someone who is not part of their family or close circle of friends.

Sometimes people find that at first they do not want support but then later change their mind. If this happens to you, please contact us.

The Bereavement Support Volunteers bring a variety of experience to their work for the hospice. They are carefully selected and follow a comprehensive training programme, which includes learning about bereavement and the effect that loss can have on our lives. Their work is regularly supervised by experienced staff.

We mostly work in a time-limited way as we find this to be most effective. The Bereavement Support Volunteer will initially meet with you for about an hour. At the end of this first meeting you will normally decide together to meet up to ten times. The support will end at that point. However, you are welcome to contact us again three months later should you wish to have further support. You may be able to see the same Bereavement Support Volunteer again, depending on availability.

Group support: Learning from Loss

Learning from loss is a seven week programme for those wanting to talk about their grief and share experiences of loss.

It is facilitated by two of our bereavement team. Each week a different topic is covered and the session runs for 1 1/2 hours.

Groups run during the day or in the evening and there are around 8-10 people in a group.

The purpose of the group is to explore

  • who is there for you.
  • what helps you cope with your loss.
  • your identity.
  • memories, meanings and memorials.

The groups are for adults of any age and are open to all regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability.

Anyone regardless of the relationship to the deceased or how the person has died can attend.

Face to face groups are created on a bespoke basis and take place at one of our St Christopher’s sites: Sydenham, Deptford or Orpington.

Contact us and a member of our bereavement team will conduct a bereavement needs assessment to make sure that a bereavement support group is the most appropriate source of support for you.

The assessment would include taking your GP’s contact details.

Everything said will be confidential within the service with the exception of where the facilitators feel someone is at risk.

Members are asked to adhere to a confidentiality agreement at the start of the group.

Bereavement support for children

Children grieve too. Usually parents and carers are best placed to help their children. We can help you to support them in their bereavement.

St Christopher’s Children and Young People’s Bereavement Service (known as Candle) offers specific counselling support for children who are bereaved. Call 0208 768 4533 or email candle.bereavement@stchristophers.org.uk

Thanksgiving and memorial service

The hospice holds a thanksgiving and memorial event four times a year for relatives and friends who will be invited about a year into their bereavement. It is an opportunity to remember and give thanks for the person who has died.

Remembering with St Christopher’s

The hospice also holds two remembering events – one in the summer and one in the winter. These are open to everyone in the community.

Welfare advice

Main carers can ask to be referred for welfare advice at the time of the death and up to three months afterwards. The welfare officers can be reached on 020 8768 4599.

If you are in financial need and need support to plan an affordable funeral we can refer you to Down to Earth, a project supported by the Quaker Social Action charity, or you can of course contact them yourself direct and in confidence on 020 8983 5055.

How much does St Christopher’s bereavement support cost?

Our bereavement support is free. St Christopher’s is a registered charity and relies on gifts and donations to carry out its work. Because of people’s generosity it is possible to offer bereavement support free of charge to everyone who needs it. We receive only a third of our budget from the NHS. We do not expect donations but any contributions you might like to make will be gratefully received. Every donation, large or small, helps us to make a difference.

How can I contact the Bereavement Service?

You can contact us via the Bereavement Service administrator on 020 8768 4599 or email stchadmin-bereavement@stchristophers.org.uk.

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