In October 2016, Bernardo's South West received grant funding to host a support group for local children who had lost a parent within the last year. The children aged between 5-17 were identified for the group because of the severe effect this has had on them and their family. The natural beauty and calm of Huish Woods in Taunton provided a welcoming and nurturing backdrop for the Mandala Bereavement Group, and many friendships were formed during the course of the two day event.
Bernardo's South West received a £2430 grant to fund the annual group, and 14 children attended the two day event. By the end of the prorgamme, many were reluctant to leave having made new friends. All the children were able to demonstrate they were now better resourced to cope with their loss, and that sharing their experience with others who understand was very positive.
Michael Hammond, Somerset Locality Manager for Bernardo's, said:
This was a very special group and the biggest impact on all the children and parents was to have met other families who have experienced the same level of grief and loss and how comforting that was for all. The overwhelming strength of this group was the use of the natural world and the changing seasons as a resource and support for the grieving process. We were able to use the naturally beautiful surroundings of Huish Woods to provide comfort and regulation. Children enjoyed swings and hammocks, playing and relaxing together outside as well as in the cosy hall in front of the log fire with cushions and blankets to create a cosy nurturing space.
- Opportunities to remember the person who died and talk about them with others.
- Finding a way to tell the narrative and integrate into life after the bereavement.
- Finding creative and constructive ways to express feelings and memories
- Making connections with other bereaved children and feeling less isolated by grief.
- Better understanding of the grieving process and how we can support ourselves and others
- Finding rituals to use to remember and celebrate the life of the person who died
- Building emotional resilience to help cope with grief
- Opening up communication between parent/carer and child
The group also offers support to parents and families and 9 attended a group session on the Friday afternoon and our closing ceremony and balloon release.