Rob is a Bereavement Counsellor at St Gemma’s. Rob talks in more detail about how we’re here to continue caring for you after someone close to you has died.
The Bereavement Service is part of the Family Support Team at St Gemma’s. We offer compassionate bereavement support to the families and friends of people who have been cared for by St Gemma’s, whether that has been through the In-Patient Unit, Community Team or Day Services.
We can be contacted directly by people whose relative or friend has been cared for by St Gemma’s. We also work closely with the Nursing, Medical, Social Work and Spiritual Care teams here, so if our colleagues feel that a family needs additional emotional support during or after their friend or relative’s illness, they refer them to us.
People turn to us for many reasons after a death. They want to speak freely with someone who has experience and understanding of what’s going on, and they may not feel comfortable talking to their own family. This isn’t necessarily because they don’t have loving support around them – they can often feel they are burdening their loved ones with their grief, and they want to avoid this.
Bereavement changes your world and we all adapt to loss in different ways. People access help at different times – it might be during the week immediately after a death or several years later. On average, each person we see receives between six and eight counselling sessions. We focus on bereavement, so if people are also experiencing other issues we can signpost them to appropriate support.
We’re keen to represent people from all communities in Leeds and ensure all our services are very person-centred. Our communities have many rituals and ways of mourning, and everyone is an individual. We don’t make any assumptions as one person’s experience can be very different from the next person’s.
People need permission to grieve the way they want, in their own time. We give people the space they need without being judged for expressing difficult feelings, or not being at the point others may be telling them they should have reached. Sometimes the relationship with the person who died was not an easy one, and having a neutral person with whom to speak can be helpful. We help people to connect with their support networks and find ways to cope with grief.
Grief is very unpredictable so it can be a huge relief to talk through it all and be reassured that it’s normal. People worry that there’s something wrong with them as they don’t understand why they’re feeling a certain way. Emotions come up that they’re not expecting, sometimes many conflicting ones all at the same time. They want to know that what their feeling is OK. We give them space to offload and process these feelings.
We acknowledge their loss and listen without judgement, helping them understand what’s going on for them. We can’t fix what’s happened but we can help them find ways to cope.
If you feel you may benefit from counselling or group sessions, find further information at https://www.st-gemma.co.uk/bereavement-support or contact the Bereavement Team on 0113 306 9167.