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  • 24 October 2018

Every month, a bereavement group meets at South Bucks Hospice in High Wycombe. Below, one group member describes the help and hope it provides people in their hour of need.

Retired teacher Brian Lawrence, from High Wycombe, tells here of his gratitude to the bereavement group run at the South Bucks Hospice, following the death of his wife Liz

Liz died in January 2018 from the twin scourges of dementia and cancer. I was her care-giver for the 14 years of her illnesses and her 24/7 over the final ten. Those years, painful as they were, proved to be a time of enlightenment, education and shameful, shameful struggle with the care agencies whose baggage brought enormous and unnecessary distress which has not evaporated with her passing.

When I first stepped into this group of bereaved individuals, I was ambivalent about what I was to encounter. My doubts fell away immediately people spoke and a transformative atmosphere of engrossed silence emerged. Suddenly, solace and empathy abounded.

The emotional minefield of bereavement had generated a host of needs in me. They demanded to be met and that soon became possible only through the contact with, talking about and sharing of my loss with others. I could not face that loss, that bereavement and that grief alone. They had already overtaken my mind to become an overwhelming and dominating force within it. The group has a professional who is ever-present and who helps to direct and to make sense of the pain expressed. Worries, tears, fears and self-doubts have the chance to be exercised as well as exorcised.

The sessions provide me with a safe place that allows my mind to relax, gives me the opportunity to be myself, the chance to be listened to and the amazing synergy of shared experiences. A vital yet quite unexpected outcome for me is the time that follows when, for a while, I am uplifted in mood and spirit.

This group and its value to those who do not attend

The loss of a loved often throws the life of the bereaved into a tail-spin. Everything risks falling apart. The pain becomes unbearable. All sense of purpose disappears and life itself can seem to have little point or value. No-one can even vaguely comprehend the anguish it will cause or how long it will endure. There is so much to remember, so much to honour, so much of which we do not want to let go and so much that we can do to help each one of us through this highly distressing process. The group provides an arena for confidential, open, fair and democratic exchange. The pay-offs are balance, freedom, guidance and especially, release. The potential end-game, the shangri-la of it all, is to regain one's peace of mind.