Background The role of hospices in providing bereavement support is well-established (Department of Health, 2008). One effective strategy is the provision of therapeutic bereavement groups (Spence & Smale, 2015; Vlasto, 2009) where participants receive emotional comfort from being with others who have undergone similar experiences, with a professional facilitator. However, previous service users often report feeling emotionally drained at the end of each session, and for a short period afterwards. Therefore we decided to explore the impact of incorporating a self-care activity at the end of each session.
Aims To investigate the effectiveness of a mindfulness meditation activity at the end of each bereavement group session on the subsequent mood of participants. The benefits of mindfulness meditation include improved feelings of wellbeing (Carmody & Baer, 2008) and reduced psychological distress (Coffey & Hartman, 2008) and could therefore be expected to lift the mood of participants after each group session.
Methods Participants completed a Core 10 assessment tool at the beginning and end of a six-week bereavement group programme to measure any overall changes in mood and functioning. Qualitative feedback was sought in the form of a participant questionnaire with open questions. Participants also gave verbal feedback with a particular focus on the incorporation of the self-care activity.
Results A related t test revealed a statistically significant difference between beginning and end Core 10 scores p≤ 0.05. Verbal feedback indicated that participants generally left each session in a positive mood, and a word cloud analysis of written feedback revealed that ‘uplifted’, ‘calm’ and ‘relaxed’ were most frequently chosen to describe the mindfulness meditation activity.
Conclusion Including a self-care activity at the end of a therapeutic bereavement group session is beneficial in improving the mood of participants and may mitigate against the emotionally draining experience of participating in such a group. Further research into the most beneficial self-care activity would be useful for the planning and delivery of future groups.
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