Family and friends of anyone who has received care and support from Marie Curie in Wales will now have access to an extended bereavement service as part of a new pilot. The free service will be provided by Cruse Bereavement Care in partnership with Marie Curie, and is available to people who’ve been supported by the Marie Curie Nursing or Helper service in Wales.
Until now, Marie Curie was only able to offer bereavement support to the family and loved ones of people who had been cared for at the Marie Curie Cardiff & the Vale Hospice in Penarth. But this new 12-month pilot partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care means Marie Curie can extend its support for adults, children and young people who have lost someone close who was supported by the charity.
Cruse Bereavement Care provides a tailored bereavement service based on the support that is needed. Trained bereavement volunteers will provide support via the telephone, email, face-to-face contact or through a support group, depending on the wishes of the individual. Among the first people in Wales to take advantage of the new Bereavement Support Service is Andrea Morgan, from Port Talbot.
Andrea was a full-time carer for her mother, Doreen Turner, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease for a number of years. Marie Curie Healthcare Assistants helped care for Doreen in the final weeks before her death in January 2015. Despite support from her family and friends, Andrea, 54, struggled to cope with the death of her mother, but thanks to telephone support through the Bereavement Support Service, she is now back on her feet again.
She explained: “After we buried my mum I just fell to pieces. I was lost. Eventually I folded like a pack of cards. I stayed in the living room with the curtains drawn and the TV on. I didn’t want to interact with the outside world. I couldn’t be bothered with anyone, not even my daughter or my grandkids. I just felt like a robot. The day that I couldn’t take it any longer my friend said ‘You need help. You need to phone them’. I phoned Cruse and then the time of healing started.
“I chose to have telephone support, because at that time I kept breaking down all the time and I didn’t want to break down in front of other people. The lady on the phone was so good. She would call me at the same time every week, and she wasn’t so much there to answer my questions, it was more to listen to me. I suppose she’s like a best friend that I’ve never put a face to – she was so helpful and nice.
“Sometimes I think that if it wasn’t for Cruse I wouldn’t be here today. After losing my mum, and all the time that I had given caring for her, I felt like someone had taken all the strength out of me and all that was left was a shell.
“The support from Cruse has really helped me to get my life back. When I spoke to the lady at Cruse, she gave me the motivation to get back up on my feet. Every week that she would phone to talk I would get a little bit stronger. Now I think I’m a stronger person than I was before.”
Maxine Norrish, Project Manager at Cruse Bereavement Care Cymru, said: “Grief is a very personal process and no two people will grieve in the same way. While some people may receive support from their friends, family or healthcare professionals, others may benefit from talking to someone who is specially trained in bereavement support.
“The time at which a bereaved person needs support can also vary; some may need help right at the beginning immediately after the death of a loved one, while others may require support after 12 months when they have had the reminders of special dates and anniversaries and realise they are still not coping.
“Cruse bereavement volunteers are there to provide caring and compassionate support, and can help you talk through your thoughts and feelings while also helping you access useful services and information.”
Helen Davies, Regional Manager of the Marie Curie Nursing Service, said: “At Marie Curie we aim to provide care and support through terminal illness, and that includes supporting that person’s family and friends and ensuring that the right support is available after a loved one has died.
“I am really pleased that we have been able to work with Cruse Bereavement Care to offer this service to bereaved families who have lost someone supported by Marie Curie or our Helper service. I’m sure this pilot will continue to play a vital role in helping people fully come to terms with the death of a loved one.”