Flora, 35, has been attending our bereavement social evenings. Martlets looked after her mum Anne who spent her last days on our inpatient unit in February 2022. Flora explains how the bereavement group has supported her and tells us about the care her mum received from Martlets.
“I lost my mum to cancer when she was 67 and I was 34. It made me think that she would’ve been halfway through her life at my age and that was a real shock. Losing my mum was devastating but Martlets were so supportive and were still there after mum died offering bereavement support. I received a letter from them informing me about the group which meets regularly, and initially I went along to accompany my dad. Most of the people there were a lot older, but I met someone who was around my age and she has become a good friend. She lost her mum too and we bonded because we’d had a similar experience and had similar feelings. It was that connection right from the get-go that kept me going along.
I want to encourage other younger people to come along to the bereavement social group. It’s open to anyone over 18 who’s lost someone who was a Martlets patient. It feels important to be able to share how I’m feeling with people of a similar age.
It was quite emotive turning up there for the first time not knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be a really supportive place to go. I was one of the first people in my friends’ group to lose my mum and it’s been hard to speak honestly with raw emotion to my close support network. My friends were great at texting me and offering support but didn’t really know what to say because none of us had been through this before. As a society, we don’t really talk about death and loss very easily, but at the bereavement social group I found I could be totally unguarded about it.
The session begins with an activity to break the ice and help people feel relaxed and able to chat. Doing something practical like making Christmas decorations or craft activities makes it easier for conversation to grow organically rather than it feeling awkward. We might share memories of the loved ones we’ve lost, but we’ll also find ourselves talking about the months preceding our loss and how brutal diseases such as cancer can be. That’s something that is difficult to talk honestly to friends about, but others at the group understand the trauma that can precede death; the endless hospital appointments, the terrible pain and symptoms that can come on so quickly, and the process of dying in the last few hours and days.
At the group it feels cathartic to speak about that without being worried about frightening people, or it seeming morbid; they have been through similar experiences too. The group is also facilitated by one of Martlets’ amazing bereavement counsellors so there’s that professional support and structure there.
Martlets made me, mum and our family feel so safe and well looked after. They cared for mum on the inpatient unit and were always there providing the right care exactly when we needed it.
The first detection of Mum’s cancer was in August and within a month we got the devastating news that it was a very poor prognosis. We all wanted to keep Mum at home as long as possible, but her condition deteriorated really quickly. We were in contact with Martlets and it was clear that the best thing was for her to go into the hospice. Right from the start I felt I was under their wing and so well cared for as well as Mum.
We built such fantastic connections with the staff and with one nurse in particular. On the day Mum died, it was a dreadful day, but the way he cared for us and the words of comfort he gave us will always stay with me. He also offered reassurance that Martlets would be in touch to offer support even after Mum died. It was important to know that their support would keep going in terms of one-to-one counselling and the bereavement group. He was an exceptional person and all the staff were just bringing so much dignity and care to those last days and moments for people. You think of that happening when someone comes into the world but it’s so important to bring that to end of life too.
Martlets has been such an incredible presence in my life so please support them in any way you can to help more families like mine.”
Bereavement Social Evenings take place on the first Wednesday of the month. Bereaved loved ones will receive an invitation to a first meeting approximately five months after their loss. They can choose thereafter to attend whenever they want to, for up to two years and two months after the date of their bereavement.
Also, the family and friends of a person receiving care from the Martlets can request psychological support from the counselling team, via the Patient and Family Support Services administrator Anne Clay on 01273 273400.
Our care is possible thanks to the support of local people who help keep Martlets caring. Find out how you can support Martlets at https://www.martlets.org.uk/take-part/
For anyone who’s missing their Mum or wishing that someone special was here this Mother’s Day, you can remember them by adding a special dedication. You can share your photos, messages and memories and celebrate their life.