Christmas Isn’t Always Merry and Bright
As winter approaches and the festive season begins, we know how difficult it can be for people who are grieving or facing Christmas alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first year without someone who has died or you were bereaved long ago. Dealing with a serious illness or the death of someone close can be deeply traumatic.
At St Gemma’s Hospice the Family Support Team provides practical and emotional support and advice to patients through their illness. The team also support the loved ones of a patient during their time in our care and often after they have died.
St Gemma’s social workers support with practical matters such as future planning and decision making, helping with funeral arrangements, or signposting to legal and financial advice. A significant part of the social worker’s role is to listen to patients and families talk about their feelings, worries, and concerns and to explore ways to make a difference and improve the situation.
Debs Newman (pictured above right), a social worker in the Family Support Team gives some insight into her role:
“When offering support to a patient or a family member I try to establish what could make a real difference. Recently, I supported a 40-year-old woman who knew time was short. She wanted to write birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards for her nearest and dearest. Finding Christmas cards in the middle of August wasn’t easy, but thankfully I managed it and this brought her great comfort at a difficult time.
“When offering support to a patient or a family member I try to establish what could make a real difference.”
“At the moment I am helping a patient find a new home for her cat; I have liaised with a national charity so plans are in place when the time comes. Similarly, my colleagues go the extra mile for patients and their families – from finding dog walkers and supporting with wedding arrangements to bringing in vegetables from the garden on a home visit. I am proud to work for a team that is so committed to supporting people at what is often a very challenging time.”
It’s often hard for carers too when they don’t know which way to turn. Our fortnightly carers’ group is available to anyone looking for a safe space to relax, meet others and seek advice. The Family Support Team also offers a bereavement service for adults and children.