Dandelions Bereavement Support Welcomes Back Members
A unique local bereavement support programme is returning to face-to-face meetings and interaction and welcoming new members for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Dandelions Bereavement Support is run by family-owned Wathall’s, Derby’s longest-established independent funeral directors who have also branches in Alvaston, Ashbourne, Borrowash and Burton-on-Trent. One of the best known aspects of Dandelions has been the free bereavement support groups which meet every two weeks in Derby city centre and once a month in Ashbourne with plans to extend the group network in the coming months.
Since last March, existing members have met virtually and in small groups who have arranged outdoor gatherings in line with Covid restrictions. They will be joined by new members, including those who have lost a loved one during the pandemic, from late August.
The support groups are free of charge and open to people of all ages who have experienced a bereavement – whether recently or several years ago and regardless of whether they used Wathall’s for the funeral. Wathall’s recently expanded its bereavement support with the introduction of counselling. 121 sessions have so far been held online but these will soon be available face-to-face.
Wathall’s will also resume the popular Dandelions Grief Journey programme which is a free four week educational programme where, meeting once a week for two hours, people can better understand the grief process and come to terms with the ‘new normal’ of life after loss.
Wathall’s bereavement support coordinator Fay Bloor, who runs Dandelions Bereavement Support, explained: “Our existing group members are so pleased to be back to meeting up together. Although we have been meeting virtually when we can, it is not the same as being together in the same room where you can better see people’s body language and whether they need some extra support.
“We aim to create an informal and welcoming environment to give people the chance to meet like minded people in a social and safe setting with support from our skilled and experienced facilitators. Everyone has the common bond of having suffered a bereavement and this is an opportunity to share stories and express feelings freely knowing others will understand, be non-judgemental and supportive.”
The Derby Dandelions group includes widowed great grandmother Doris Ireson from Sandiacre who joined soon after her husband died in 2018.
“I have really missed the interaction with other people at Dandelions. It gives me a reason to get up, be more positive about life and has given me a voice. I tried to keep busy over lockdown and many of us have kept in touch but it’s not the same and I am so relieved that the groups are back up and running.”
Long-standing member Patricia Maher who has been attending Derby Dandelions since her husband died six years ago, added: “The groups are very special because everybody here has lost someone they love and it is good to know that somebody understands how you feel.”
Fay Bloor continued that there had been a surge in interest for bereavement counselling since lockdown restrictions ended.
“The ongoing pandemic has really confirmed the need for local bereavement counselling with so many individuals and families having faced difficult and often overwhelming circumstances. Many have not been able to say goodbye to their loved ones in hospital, restrictions have meant that family and friends have not been able to come together to mourn and hold the funeral they would have wanted and many people have been isolated and are coping with grief alone.
“Since launching the bereavement counselling service, we have received a number of enquiries and these have increased more recently with people keen and feeling more comfortable to meet face to face.”