insideKENT Magazine insideKENT October 2018 Issue 79 - Page 168

CHARITY Kent Charity Profile: THE BEREAVEMENT CAFÉ BEREAVEMENT IS SOMETHING THAT WILL AFFECT US ALL AT SOME POINT, AND WE WILL ALL REACT TO IT IN DIFFERENT WAYS. SOMETHING THAT IS COMMON TO ALL, HOWEVER, IS THE NEED TO DEAL WITH THE GRIEF WE ARE FEELING SO THAT IT DOESN’T OVERWHELM US. FOR SOME, THIS MEANS TALKING THROUGH THE PAIN WITH SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE GOING THROUGH. AT THE BEREAVEMENT CAFÉ, BASED IN ORPINGTON, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS. What is it that The Bereavement Café does? The Bereavement Café is a once a month pop up café that offers support to those who are suffering from grief. During the two hours we are open each month, we provide qualified counsellors and good listeners to those wanting to come and talk about their loved ones. It may be that just talking to someone helps them come to terms with their loss, or perhaps they are needing some professional support in how they can work through their grief. We also try to find help in other ways. Just recently, a lady came to us as she was struggling with the death of her daughter. As a result, she had taken on her grandchild, and was unaware of all the legalities that went with becoming a main carer. One of our volunteers was a social worker, and was able to help her with many questions, advice and support, at what was such a 168 difficult time for her. Sometimes, it is just advice that is needed, and where we can help, we will. Why is the work that The Bereavement Café does so important? It is important to offer this as funding in our area (Orpington) was stopped a few years ago. There are waiting lists, but grief needs to be dealt with as soon as it occurs. Some feel that talking things through really helps them, and rather than burden family members or friends they can talk openly to one of our counsellors, and know that that is what they are there for. What happens during a meeting at The Bereavement Café? We set up the café so that there is an area for some who like to chat amongst themselves, and perhaps meet others who are in the same position as them, but there is also privacy for those who require it. Our tables are set far enough apart that conversations can’t be overheard, and we always provide tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as plenty of tissues and support. What is the charity’s history? Working as a funeral celebrant, Michelle The Bereavement Café family Harvey felt that the families she worked with were in need of additional support once the funeral service was over. Michelle found it hard to walk away, so kept in touch with many of her families afterwards. This was with either a phone call or an email, just to check they were okay, and not struggling. After the funeral was the crucial time, when families have had the focus of the funeral, and afterwards, they have to try and adjust to life without their loved ones. So with the help and support of Valentine and Turner Funeral Directors, they provided a monthly place for people to go, and talk, specifically about their loss, and how they were feeling. November 2017 saw the first Bereavement Café, and with a handful of volunteers, plus qualified counsellors, they opened their doors, and it was a success from the beginning. Gradually, people heard about the café, and came along. Some didn’t know what to expect, but all are greeted with a friendly smile, a cup of