For most young people, Christmas is a time of excitement and joy, but for those who have been bereaved, it can often serve as a reminder that special person is no longer there. At St Oswald’s, our Bereavement Support Team are here all year round to support families and encourage children to focus on the special memories they have of the person they are remembering.
My name is Brenda Clayton and I lead the Bereavement Support Team at St Oswald’s Hospice. My team and I are there for those who have recently been bereaved, and those who are preparing for the death of a loved one. We offer support to adults, young people and children from across the North East with a connection to St Oswald’s, to help them understand the loss of a parent, sibling or other close family member.
While you’re busy making festive plans may we ask you to spare a few minutes to think about the children who have lost a loved one this year, and may find Christmas a particularly difficult time.
Could you make a donation this Christmas to help us support young people, like Freya,who have lost a loved one?
Freya Woods from Whitley Bay was just 9 when her brother Will, died suddenly in June 2014 at the age of 5, from a rare and aggressive childhood cancer called Burkitt Lymphoma. Her mother Louise received bereavement support at St Oswald’s, and I worked closely with Freya to help her make sense of how she was feeling.
Watch our video where Freya explains how our Bereavement Service supported her at a difficult time
Freya, has attended two of St Oswald’s ‘Ozzy Days’ which are special days for bereaved children. Here, we use arts, crafts, music and storytelling, to help the young people to express thoughts and feelings associated with illness and the death of their loved one.
Many of the young people we speak to say ‘I can’t talk to my family in case I upset them’ or ‘I can’t cry in front of people’. We tell them ‘this is a safe and confidential place and if you want to sit and cry in here you can sit and cry.’ It’s vital to be able to share our emotions, it’s really important and healthy part of the grieving process.
There are some sad times but there are some very happy times as well. When people come to terms with the loss and realise ‘I can actually do this now on my own, I’m able to move forward, although I miss this person terribly.’ That’s when they say to us ‘thank you, I don’t think I need to come anymore’ and that’s when my team think ‘Yes, we’ve had success.’
Your Christmas gift will allow our Bereavement Support Team to be there for more young people and provide them a friendly ear, reassuring words and a safe place where they can find comfort in talking through their thoughts, fears and special memories.
Thank you. Through your compassion and generosity, we can continue to provide our specialist care for North East people who have incurable conditions, and their families.
Wishing you a merry and peaceful Christmas.
Brenda and the Bereavement Support team
How your gift can support our patients this Christmas
£20 will buy a beautiful memory box for a childto fill with reminders of their special person
£35 will pay for arts and crafts resources to be used at Ozzy Days, to help children express and share their feelings
£50 will purchase specialist board games and books to encourage children to talk about and understand their emotions
£100 will fund a session of specialist bereavement support for a child, including all arts and craft materials, resources and staffing