Today sees the start of Dying Matters Week and we wanted to let you know about the bereavement support that is available for bereaved carers in Leeds.  The following is just one example of the type of support that is available.  Judy, one of our Bereaved Carer Support Workers, tells us about T who she has supported.

T is an 83 year old gay male. He had been a carer for his partner, who had been diagnosed with dementia, for a few years. T accessed the bereavement support service a few weeks following the death of his partner. Following his partner’s death he experienced a huge range of emotions and found himself frequently and uncontrollably tearful. The death of his partner also triggered many issues, unrelated to his partner, that T needed to share.  Judy visited T at home and Judy and T agreed to meet on a 1-2-1 basis at T’s home as this would be easier for him.

Following the death of his partner, T experienced a huge sense of loss. The early stages of the bereavement support provided T with the space to talk about his loss: the loss related to their partner acquiring dementia and their deterioration, the loss of their partner through their death, and the loss they felt around no longer being a carer for their partner. During sessions T talked openly about his partner and the journey in life that they shared together – sharing photographs and memories that spanned 63 years, in sessions with Judy seemed to provide T with some comfort and joy amidst his periods of significant loss and heightened emotional pain. During the early sessions of bereavement support, Judy and T focused on emotions and how T’s emotions, as with each and every one of us, have a tendency to ebb and flow.

T is a keen gardener, and at the beginning of the support was motivated to get his gardens in order; he wanted to immerse himself into something that would bring joy. He described that when his partner became ill and his responsibilities as a carer increased, the gardens needed to take a back seat. As the weeks progressed, T’s gardens had transformed into a calm and peaceful oasis. Each week when Judy visited T, she observed the new arrival of plants, shrubs, trellises, garden ornaments and features, and how delighted T was to give Judy a tour and share his creative efforts and the transformation that was taking place. Towards the end of the bereavement support, T had a wooden plaque mounted in his garden in commemoration of his partner.

T had 12 sessions of bereavement support staggered over a period of nine months. As T’s gardens were experiencing a transformation – an oasis of calm, vibrant colour amidst the ever changing seasons, T too had begun to recognise shifts around his grief and loss, feelings and emotions and had begun to gradually discover his self again. At the final session, T said to Judy: “I could not imagine feeling as different as I do”. T had reached a place on his grief journey of feeling more accepting of the loss of his partner and able to vision a future. He maintains regular contact with his friends and neighbours and is keen to actively develop new relationships with others through attending local social groups with existing friends.

If you would like support from this service, contact our advice line on 0113 380 4300 or e-mail advice@carersleeds.org.uk.

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