Bereavement Support Line 1800 80 70 77

Sunflower News Spring 2021

Sunflower News spring2021

How You’re Helping the Hidden Heartbroken

Last year, your generosity helped open Ireland’s first free Bereavement Support Line. Since then, hundreds of people who feel isolated and alone in their grief have called. Thanks to you, a caring voice answers…

It was the very first call I took. I’ll never forget it,” says Patricia, one of our wonderful Bereavement Support Line volunteers. “She was an older lady. She said that her husband had become ill. An ambulance had come to take him away, and she never saw him again.”

Another call, Patricia remembers with sorrow, was from a young woman who lost her beloved father to coronavirus. She never got a chance to say goodbye. “She just cried down the phone to me for 40 minutes,” says Patricia, adding, “people are really struggling right now.”

Of course, our Bereavement Support Line is completely confdential.

We’ve changed details in these stories to ensure the identities of callers remain anonymous. But gently easing the tears into conversation is what our support line volunteers do, because of you. And Patricia wants you to know that your compassion and support is reaching people in pain during this pandemic.

Surviving Bereavement

Patricia is someone who herself has carried grief around with her for most of her life. But it’s the strength that comes from surviving such losses that motivates her to walk with others on that journey.

“I want to help people through their grief, and there’s an awful lot of lonely, griefstricken people out there at the moment.

And that, says Patricia, is why the Bereavement Support Line your generosity provides is so very important during this crisis, because while more people than ever are grieving the loss of a loved one, they are also physically isolated from the support of family and friends.

“Often, callers have no one there to wrap their arms around them. There’s no one to say ‘you go on up to bed and I’ll make you a cup of tea’, or even just hold their hand. That’s why this line is so important. We’re trained listeners and talking is so powerful.”

Words of comfort

“A lot of the time it’s reassuring people that what they are experiencing is normal. Grief throws up so many raw and unexpected emotions,” says Patricia. “There’s a comfort in hearing — you’re not the only one who feels like that, you know. It’s all part of the orchestra of feelings grief throws up.”

Grief revisited

If you have felt the pain of grief, you know that it never really goes away, you just learn to live with it over time.

And while many who have lost loved ones during this crisis have called the Bereavement Support Line, they aren’t the only people who are suffering. At a time when death and dying are all around us, and people are isolated, it’s hardly surprising that years or even decades-old grief is revisiting people.

“I spoke to a man whose daughter died 15 years ago. He was back there in fresh grief. He felt he had no one to talk to.”

Patricia, Bereavement Support Line volunteer

The Moments of Light You Give

“How lucky I am to have had someone that makes saying goodbye so hard”
Funded by your generosity, our Nurses for Night Care keep grateful families together until the very end. Today, Nurse Aoife tells how the precious moments you make possible in those fnal days and nights can become treasured memories.

So often when people talk of end-of-life care, it is with sorrow. But as Aoife, one of our Nurses for Night Care explains, “the last days of someone’s life can be so beautiful.” Sent by your love, the care you make possible goes far beyond the medical. Our wonderful Nurses for Night Care go above and beyond to make the final nights a family has together special and meaningful.

Sweet Soul Music

Songs, prayers, poems, books, and stories – these are the things that speak to our souls and make us uniquely human. So it’s no wonder they take on a new and profound meaning when time is short and so very precious. There is probably a song that reminds you of your own loved and lost. With its magical ability to stir cherished memories, music can bring much comfort to people who are dying and their families.

“I remember one family so fondly. The father was dying. He was a music lover. I mentioned I could play piano. Soon they had me playing the piano, and one of his sons was on the guitar at the bedside.”

Aoife, Nurse for Night Care

Surrounded by Love

“There are moments of pure joy, even laughter when families are all together in those final nights” says Aoife. She tells of a family who were losing their Mam. “She had eight grown-up children. They all wanted to be with her when she drew her final breath. They were around her, sharing silly stories and happy memories. It was so special for them all to be there around her bed, just as she would have wanted.”

Small things considered

When someone you love dies, it’s little things that make a big difference. And when Nurse Mary noticed something small that didn’t sit right, you helped change it.

“When someone died, we [nurses] found ourselves having to return treasured items to the family in an envelope or plastic bag. I’ve even heard of jewellery being wrapped in tissue or tin foil. It felt disrespectful.”

Nurse Mary

That’s when Mary and her fellow nurses had the idea of a little keepsake to return treasured belongings with the respect and consideration bereaved families deserve.

Thanks to your generous support, Irish Hospice Foundation helped Mary develop special pouches for a pilot scheme.

Families were so appreciative that precious rings and necklaces, physical things that connected them to the person they had lost, were handled with such care and consideration,” says Mary.

“Two daughters whose mother died came back and said, ‘thank you’. ”
The pouches are now available to every hospice, hospital, and nursing home in Ireland. Mary is delighted. And she’s grateful to you.

“It’s such a simple gesture, but when people are so distraught, it means so much. I’m so grateful to Irish Hospice Foundation supporters.”

Nurse Mary

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