Background We recognised the limitations of our bereavement groups, and were eager to explore grief at a deeper level through a creative medium, guided by national standards (Bereavement Care Service Standards, 2013).
To write about our lives, feelings, thoughts, share our writing with others, reflect on past experiences, including service user feedback;
For group members to discover a new tool allowing them to access their grief in a different way;
Through group exercises members will discover a new narrative and a new source of meaning to their lives.
Methods Invitations were sent to bereaved people using hospice services. A closed group ran for six sessions, limited to six members and two facilitators, who participated to allow a collegiate approach.
Each session opened with a poem, brought by the group, allowing the group to reflect on their mood, for facilitators to lead with greater sensitivity adapting to the group needs. Homework was set weekly providing the focus for the first half of the next session. The remainder of the session was used for written exercises using techniques of expressive writing.
Results Evaluation was mainly qualitative, measured by attendance and evaluation forms. Facilitators monitored and reflected weekly. On our first group, anticipated results were confirmed by user evaluation, which informed our next group. Facilitators witnessed aims met, promoting further writing groups, thus ensuring hospice bereavement support reaches a wider level of need.
Conclusions Conclusions and recommendations for the hospice bereavement service is to include this group as a regular service. We recognise the limitations of educational levels, however, skilful facilitation enables a generous group.
Using a different medium has proved to unlock the unspoken – ‘The course helped me to break out of a writing drought, and find courage and vocalise about my late wife.’
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