The bereavement support offered by ellenor has recently been expanded to include Bereavement Cuppa sessions at ellenor Gravesend on Thursday evenings from 7-9pm. These are open to anyone who has suffered a bereavement – including local people with no prior connection with ellenor and are being run in partnership with Carers FIRST.

Bereavement Cuppa offers those who have suffered a bereavement the opportunity to come together in a supportive environment, make friendships that will hopefully extend outside the group and have the opportunity to talk and be listened to.

“Grief is a normal response after somebody dies,” says Dr Russ Hargreaves, Head of Wellbeing at ellenor. “These sessions are intended to offer support and friendship from others on a similar journey.” When a patient is cared for by ellenor, the charity makes sure that their loved ones are supported too, providing respite care and advice on finances, for example – or simply a shoulder to cry on. This support continues after a patient has died. ellenor already runs a bereavement group each Thursday morning – but this is not always convenient for people who have returned to work. The Thursday evening Bereavement Cuppa gives people the opportunity to meet outside of work hours and are also open to people not connected with ellenor – enabling the charity to increasingly reach into the local community.

Frances Lusty from Cobham has been coming along to ellenor’s Thursday morning Bereavement Group in Dartford for 18 months, since the charity cared for her husband Vincent. “The Bereavement Group has been brilliant,” says Frances. “I’ve met lots of nice people here and made some really good friends. We’ve been there for each other during some really difficult times.”

Frances now regularly sees friends she’s met at the Group – getting together for lunches and shopping. She’s also recently returned from a four-day trip to the Isle of Wight with five friends she’s made at the Bereavement Group. “There were tears on our break – but there was so much laughter as well,” says Frances. “I really don’t know where I’d be without the support and friendship I’m gained from the ellenor Bereavement Group.”

Frances’ husband Vincent spent the last four weeks of his life at ellenor Gravesend – having been visited by the charity’s homecare team before that. “We thought he was going in for a few days to control his pain – but the situation changed and he didn’t return home,” says Frances. “The care he received from nurses, doctors and all the ellenor team was fantastic. He really couldn’t have received better care and I felt very supported as well and still do.”

This year, Frances has signed up with some of her Bereavement Group friends to do ellenor’s Twilight Walk (on Friday 16 September). “ellenor does a brilliant job and I really wanted to do something to support them,” she says. “It’ll be good to be walking with friends as well. The pain of losing Vincent never goes away – but the friendships I’m made with people in a similar position to me makes it a bit easier.”

The Bereavement Cuppa sessions run from 7.00pm to 9.00pm in the dining room at ellenor Gravesend. Dates in September are: 1, 15 and 29 and October: 13 and 27. To find out more about bereavement support at ellenor, call Sarah Green on 01474 320007.