Supporting the individual needs of bereaved friends and family

by Charly Hutson Marie Curie Strategic Lead for Bereavement Charley Hutson cutout resized for blog

The About Me initiative gives us a helpful reminder that we should always think of people as individuals and not define them by their condition.

But what about the person standing by their side? They are an individual too with worries and needs all of their own. Historically, Marie Curie has provided bereavement support through our hospices but not to loved ones of people who have been supported by other Marie Curie services. The National Council for Palliative Care recently released a report called Life After Death: Six steps to improve support in bereavement. The report states “the death of someone close will affect almost all of us at some point, with well over half of people (63%) reporting being bereaved in the last five years alone. “Bereavement can influence every aspect of well-being, from physical and mental health to feelings of connectedness and the ability to function at work or school.

A death often means other changes for those left behind, such as taking on new responsibilities, moving house, or adjusting to different living standards.” Life After Death reports that three quarters of people who have been bereaved say they didn’t get the support they needed. So, what are we going to do about it? As part of Marie Curie’s new Strategic Plan, the charity has committed to investigating how it may develop our bereavement support.

This review is currently underway and is looking both at how we grow what we have and at how we develop new services. We are currently negotiating a partnership with a specialist bereavement support organisation to deliver a pilot of bereavement support to loved ones of people how have been cared for through the Marie Curie Nursing Service. All people contacting the service will be individually assessed and will be supported in a way that best suits their needs. If the pilot is successful it will be considered for national roll out. The loss of someone close is one of the hardest and most painful experiences we go through. This is often made worse by the expectation that you ‘need to get on with it’ and ‘put a brave face on’. Everyone grieves in their own way, in their own time – there is no ‘right’ way. Maybe we can all do a little bit to help? If you have had experience of bereavement support and would like to tell us about how it helped, please contact Charly at Marie Curie's bereavement booklet covers the practical and emotional issues connected to bereavement, and includes information about other organisations that may be able to help you.