A grief supported
How can a family be sustained through the loss of a child? David Ireland reflects on the ministry of bereavement support
Bereavement support is about listening carefully, never assuming that you understand someone’s situation, being alongside but never being directive and allowing the individual to express their grief in their way.
There are currently over 250 sick children and young adults receiving respite care at Francis House, one of 40 children’s hospices scattered around the UK. Of these 250 young people, two-thirds are under 16. This means that a great deal of our support is in the form of respite care, giving the families a well-earned break, enabling them to recharge their batteries ready to continue their unremitting 24-hour care. One of the advantages of providing respite care is that we are able to befriend families and earn their trust prior to the need for end-of-life care.
Francis House Family Trust was established in Didsbury, Greater Manchester in 1990. It was a Roman Catholic initiative but the Bishop of Salford, Patrick Kelly, recognised the need for the hospice to be for people of all faiths and no faith backgrounds. Of the current roll, over 30% are Asian Muslim. The various cultures involved mean that end-of-life care and the subsequent bereavement support varies considerably. Grief is expressed and dealt with in many different ways. Individuals have different needs, and these needs often differ within families…
David Ireland is the minister of Union Street Church, Oldham, and chief executive officer of Francis House Children’s Hospice in Manchester
This is an extract from the March 2015 edition of Reform.