Bereaved children explore life, loss and healing as St Nicholas Hospice Care support group Nicky's Way meets for first time in 18 months
Friendships were formed and heart-warming stories shared as a group offering help to bereaved children met for the first time in 18 months to explore life, loss and healing.
The Nicky’s Way support programme, organised St Nicholas Hospice Care, held a two-day workshop for six families on July 27 and 28 after in-person group sessions were suspended during the pandemic.
Children enjoyed memory-making activities and football during the event at Hardwick Primary School, in Bury St Edmunds, with support from hospice staff and volunteers.
Julie Baerwolf, art therapist and Nicky’s Way co-ordinator, said while they offered families online help during the pandemic, it was ‘wonderful’ to finally have fun in a group.
“Friendships were made quickly, and the sharing of stories was so heart-warming,” she said.
Children initially came in looking shy and worried, but on the second day, they ran in and were sad the programme needed to end.
One dad, who attended with his two children, said they were able to meet other bereaved families, with children connecting not only through their grief but through games and activities.
Another parent said her daughter received a video call every week for six weeks through Nicky’s Way which helped her understand the process of bereavement.
Dr Robert Brodrick, one of the hospice’s doctors, also joined the workshops to take medical questions from children which can include wanting to know about cancer, how medical equipment works and telling the doctor how sad they feel.
Dr Brodrick said: “It was such a privilege to spend a morning exploring life, loss and healing together.
“I wasn’t sure which was more uplifting: our profound discussions, plasticine model-making or a vigorous multi-generational football game.”
Meanwhile, Sarah Price, the hospice’s psychological support practitioner, and volunteer Sarah Flowers, arranged an adults group.
Sarah said: “The adults met separately over coffee and tea, and much like the children, they started the morning quiet and hesitant, unsure of how or where to begin.
“However, also like the children, brought together by a common loss, they found support and understanding from their peers.
“There was laughter and tears and plans to stay in touch to continue their journey forward.”