We are delighted to announce our new Bereavement Support service, which is designed to provide advice and guidance to families and friends following the loss of a loved one.
The service will add to existing services for bereaved people whose loved ones received cancer treatment at The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre or other west of Scotland hospitals.
It will help people cope with grief and in doing so, will reduce the numbers struggling to cope with their loss.
The project has been a partnership between NHS Endowments Fund and Beatson Cancer Charity, costing nearly £225,000.
A survey from the UK Commission on Bereavement Report 2022 shows 28% of UK adults say they received no support from family and 46% received no support from friends following bereavement, highlighting a need for further support services across the country.
26-year old Jamie Barrett from Blantyre sadly lost his mum, 59-year old Eileen Barrett, in May this year - 10 weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer. He explains how much the service would have helped his family after she passed away.
PICTURED: Jamie Barrett as a child with his mum and dad
Jamie said: “There was no support to be honest. I had to go private for bereavement counselling which my employer put me through, which I’m going through now.
“If we had something like that which we could have turned to there and then, it would have been amazing. This is our first experience of losing somebody, especially someone that means so much to us, so if we had somebody to talk to that was caring towards us it would have changed everything.
“If that service was there at the time that it happened, it would have been vital to the actual process of moving on and getting through it and dealing with it. Whereas you bury a lot of things. You don’t face things. You don’t deal with anything."
PICTURED: Jamie's mum, Eileen Barrett
Jamie continued: “I wouldn’t even just say a service like this is important, I’d say it’s completely necessary because there are not a lot of people that can just get on with it – losing somebody in this way is hell on earth. It’s a complete necessity to have a service like that available because people can’t just be expected to carry on.”
We will adapt a psychological approach in the Bereavement Support service, called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), to help people accept their loss, improve coping strategies and live a meaningful life alongside grief.
ACT is a behavioural intervention which uses a range of strategies to increase psychological acceptance and tackle ineffective coping mechanisms. It helps people to accept the difficulties they may face in life and gives them additional tools and techniques to cope with and manage their grief.
Our psychologists have significant experience of deploying ACT to support those experiencing severe anxiety and distress around their cancer. Research demonstrates that ACT can also significantly increase life expectancy and reduce anxiety in bereaved people.
Kerry McHugh from Bothwell sadly lost her sister, Eilidh McHugh, aged 22 in 2017 following a rare cancer diagnosis. The family have raised over £400,000 for the charity since Eilidh’s passing.
PICTURED: (L-R) Eilidh McHugh, Elaine McHugh, Kerry McHugh and Mick McHugh
Kerry said: “My beautiful sister Eilidh died five years ago, and we know first-hand how vital this service will be to individuals and families. Grief is a very difficult subject to talk about.
“It means the world to us that the charity’s services will now allow for caring and compassionate support to be provided to people like us, particularly as they navigate through the darkness of grief in the first few days and months after the loss of a loved one."
PICTURED: (L-R) Eilidh McHugh, Mick McHugh, Elaine McHugh and Kerry McHugh
Kerry continued: “We know from our deep and personal grief that losing someone you love is one of the most unimaginable and distressing life events that anyone can go through and can be both overwhelming and traumatic for a long time to come.
“Having someone to speak to about personal grief on both good and bad days, about feelings you wouldn’t necessarily want to discuss with family or friends, will be a lifeline to many.
“We hope this service helps bereaved loved ones to survive each day by giving them comfort, support and a glimmer of hope for the future. We hope it allows them to remember their loved ones and celebrate their lives as they learn to live and grow with their grief.”
We are grateful to have the support from families like the McHugh’s, whose fundraising will go towards ensuring the service continues after the initial two years.
Participants will be offered a combination of support, personalised to their needs. This will be delivered in both one-to-one and group support sessions depending on the individual’s circumstances.
Jemma Byrne, psychologist for the Bereavement Support service at Beatson Cancer Charity, said:
“Grief can be an overwhelming and isolating experience - not only for newly bereaved people but also for those many months or years after the death of their loved one. Grief knows no time limits nor is there a right or wrong way to grieve.
“For someone recently bereaved, it can be difficult to know where to even begin to navigate their needs and distress. For others living several months or years on, painful emotions can remain which can be further compounded by expectations of themselves or from others about what their grief should now look like.
“Our service will be hugely important to ensure those who are grieving and in need of guidance or emotional support are recognised, acknowledged, and supported.”
Laura Murphy, outreach services manager at Beatson Cancer Charity, said: “We are delighted to be launching our new Bereavement Support service.
“We would like to thank the generosity of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Endowments Fund and the continued fundraising endeavours of our amazing supporters, for providing funding which has allowed us to develop and roll out this valuable service.
“We aim to support as many people as possible to live a life that is meaningful to them, alongside their grief.”