The Hospice Family Support Team, working in partnership with Bereavement Support South Worcestershire, developed and facilitated a bereavement group for adults bereaved by suicide. An increase in referrals for this client group indicated the need for support within this specialist area and the first ‘Relatives and Friends Through Trauma Group’ was developed.
Suicide is not an area of work that a Hospice would usually be involved with and the prospect felt challenging. However, partnership working with a commissioned bereavement service, hosted by the hospice enabled the team to explore working with bereaved people following sudden and traumatic death, and to build on their existing skills.
The first ‘Relatives and Friends through Trauma’ (RAFTT) was attended by eight clients, and facilitated by two members of staff and one volunteer. It ran weekly for eight sessions. The objective was to enable individuals to tell their stories, express their grief and to develop a sense of community and support within the group.
Clients were apprehensive, but they shared stories and experiences, and developed a strong and empathic connexion with each other. It was a powerful process to witness. Everyone had the choice to share when they felt able; the compassion, strength, honesty, pain, despair and sadness were palpable.
Support for the team was crucial. De-briefs following each group meeting enabled facilitators to explore how the session had impacted on them. Supervision was also provided on a regular basis.
The group now meets socially. There is potential for them to invite future RAFTT groups to join them, and to develop an independent community support group. They have been filmed talking about their experience of the group in order to encourage others to seek support. Following on from the success of RAFTT, a group for children bereaved by suicide is now under consideration.
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