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Changing the narrative, making bereavement everybody’s business

February 17, 2024

Grief is universal – we will all encounter it at some point in our lives – but our experience of this, and the impact that it has on us, is as unique as we are. Findings from the landmark UK Commission on Bereavement indicates that more needs to be done to raise awareness, help individuals, and lessen the challenges faced following the death of someone we know.

On 17 January, more than 80 health and care staff and volunteers came together to reflect on the learning from the Let’s Talk Bereavement project, to share their work and personal experiences, and to explore how bereavement support can be increased within our local communities. Those in attendance heard from a range of speakers and organisations, all highlighting the significant impact that grief can have on peoples’ health and wellbeing.

The take-home messages from the conference were clear – we as a society are still uncomfortable talking about death and dying, and those who are grieving suffer as a result – we need to change the narrative, making bereavement everybody’s business…

 

About the Let’s Talk Bereavement project

Initially focusing on north Cumbria, the Let’s Talk Bereavement project has been made possible with funding received through NHS Charities Together, from Newcastle Hospital Charities and County Durham Community Foundation.

Launched in May 2022, the project aimed to increase individuals’ confidence in having conversations about death and bereavement, thereby promoting access to support in an area where formal services are overwhelmed by demand – particularly in more disadvantaged communities.

The reach and impact of the project has been far greater than was ever anticipated:

  • over 1,000 people have attended free training sessions, with 10% being from outside of north Cumbria;
  • more than 170 organisations have accessed sessions, with over 450 different roles represented (from unpaid carer to specialist consultant); and
  • close collaboration has been established between partners, community organisations, groups, and individuals.

A delegate who attended a free Let’s Talk Bereavement session said:

“I now understand that humans are all unique – so is our grief . . . POWERFUL . . . so no-one can tell me how I should be feeling, it’s not their grief.”

Another delegate said:

“[The training was] really good. I could identify with lots of things including worrying about saying/do the ‘right thing'”.

There are a limited number of places remaining in February and March 2024 – please visit our training and events page to find out more and book.

 

Bereavement is Everybody’s Business Conference

The conference on 17 January provided a fantastic opportunity to consolidate, share, and celebrate the learning from the Let’s Talk Bereavement Project.

Presentations were heard from:

  • Karen Dutton – Let’s Talk Bereavement Project Lead, North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (NENC ICB).
  • Andy Airey (3 Dads Walking) and Paul Ward (Every Life Matters) – who gave a powerful depiction of suicide bereavement, emphasising why support in this area is very much needed.
  • Elizabeth Wilson (Child Bereavement UK) – who shared useful approaches on how to talk to children and young people about death, dying, and bereavement.
  • Lou Andrews (CancerCare Network) – who described the profound benefits that peer support groups can have for young people who have been bereaved.
  • Dr Kathryn Mannix (Author of ‘With The End In Mind’ and ‘Listen’) – who gave an inspirational talk on how to have ‘tender conversations’, and the positive impact associated with these.

Lively discussion and feedback was had amongst the attendees, which culminated in the completion of ‘action cards’ – written commitments on how individuals, teams and organisations will take action to improve access to low level bereavement support locally. A number of these hope to set up grief cafes/bereavement hubs in their area or workplace.

Although the day was emotive and moving in many ways, the passion and enthusiasm in the room was palpable.

Download a copy of the PowerPoint presentation below:

Bereavement is Everybody's Business Conference - Presentation FINAL

Watch this space for more conference outputs coming soon!

 

Moving forward

Whilst the Let’s Talk Bereavement project will come to a close in March 2024, work is ongoing to ensure that support continues via:

  • train-the-trainer sessions;
  • grief cafes and bereavement hubs;
  • true collaboration and partnership working;
  • a single point of access; and
  • ongoing awareness-raising on this topic.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the Let’s Talk Bereavement project to date. If we achieve our ambition of making bereavement everybody’s business, we anticipate a much more compassionate future for all.

 

If you would like to find out more about the Let’s Talk Bereavement project, or get involved with future plans, please contact: [email protected]

 

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