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St Nicholas Hospice Care's 'Bereavement Café' makes post pandemic comeback in Bury St Edmunds

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A charity’s ‘Bereavement Café’ aimed at helping those coping with the loss of loved ones has returned to Bury St Edmunds after the pandemic.

The café, organised by St Nicholas Hospice Care, last held a session at The Apex in the arc Shopping Centre on March 11, 2020, but restarted on Wednesday.

The charity’s psychological services practitioner, Caroline Jones, said the drop-in sessions are a space where people can talk about the pain of loss and also find courage and strength in knowing they are not alone.

Caroline Jones, back left, with volunteers and members of The Bereavement Café. Picture: Mark Westley.
Caroline Jones, back left, with volunteers and members of The Bereavement Café. Picture: Mark Westley.

She said: “I think the café is crucial because during Covid people have been really isolated and dealing with their grief, sometimes on their own, away from family, friends and society.

“To bring this back where people can share their stories and their grief journeys is so important.

“What the café does is normalise grief, when you listen to other’s stories you may realise you can learn to possible come to terms with it as best you can.”

The café will now meet again every Wednesday, between 10am to midday upstairs in the popular venue, with Caroline having four volunteers trained in bereavement support on hand to help.

She said: “Every one of these people are grieving, but they came with the biggest smiles on their faces today due to seeing each other again and the café’s return.

“We also have some new faces who have been welcomed and are being supported by our inclusive group.”

There are stories of café members before the pandemic going to lunch, organising cinema trips and even a pair of women who went on a coach holiday together after meeting and making friends at the café.

Caroline said: “Those stories make my heart so big when I hear them because bereavement can be painful, so to think those sorts of human connections have been made through this idea is such a wonderful thing.”

The charity, which also provides bereavement support for children and young people through its Nicky’s Way programme, hopes to expand the café initiative further.

Caroline said: “Eventually I hope to launch another one of these in Haverhill, that is my next project, and then other towns and villages.

“Bury is the flagship and only one at the moment, but I would like to spread this further and get to more people that need us.”

The Bereavement Café is open at The Apex on Wednesdays, between 10am and noon.