For a quarter-of-a-century, North Devon’s Light Up a Life appeal has given local people the chance to remember a loved one in the run up to Christmas, while helping to support the vital work of the region’s two hospice charities – Children’s Hospice South West and North Devon Hospice.
Remembering and being able to normalise feelings of grief is a special part of the care provided by both charities. Difficult discussions around death, dying and grief; conversations which often can’t be had with family or friends; understanding it’s okay not to be okay. Everyone needs different kinds of bereavement support and the hospice care teams try to respond to how people are feeling.
At Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW), the bereavement team is able to support families in a number of ways, often from the moment they first walk through the doors of the Little Bridge House hospice in Fremington.
“The support often starts very early on,” said CHSW bereavement team coordinator Jane Rainford.
Among all the lovely things we are able to do for families, it often comes as a huge relief for them to be able to talk to someone about what will happen when their child dies.
"Not only can they have these conversations with staff, but they can also talk to other families dealing with similar emotions themselves, which can also be a huge help.”
Today (December 8) marks the last day of National Grief Awareness Week, which is held every year by The Good Grief Trust to try and raise the impact of grief, to normalise grief and get people talking about it.
CHSW bereavement team member Sam Pidner said that many families retain close links with Little Bridge House after their child dies, taking part in the annual Remembering Days, joining support groups set up by the hospice, or attending sibling support bereavement weekends. Some families choose not to return, while others pick up the phone to talk to someone about their grief many years later.
“It could be 10 years later and we might get a call from someone who says ‘I just need to come back, I need to be able to look at the hospice again and talk to somebody’,” said Sam.
“Sometimes we hear from younger siblings who have now grown up and want to see the special place where their brother or sister was loved and cared for.
We are there to offer the right sort of support at the right time. Sometimes there isn’t a better and we understand and accept that’s normal.
This vital support has continued throughout the pandemic, both in person when it has been safe to do so, and via the telephone and Zoom, with virtual Remembering Days for Little Bridge House families.
As part of this year’s Light Up a Life appeal, people are being invited to remember loved ones and make a donation to North Devon’s two hospice charities in their memory. Five special church services are taking place this week in Bideford, Torrington, Fremington, Woolsery and Ilfracombe, starting today (Wednesday) at Bideford Pannier Market at 6.30pm.
The church services are open to everyone, not just those who have been supported by either hospice. For anyone unable to attend, a virtual Light Up a Life service is also being broadcast on the CHSW Facebook page at on December 15. Join the Facebook event
People can also make a donation to this year’s Light Up a Life appeal in memory of a loved one on our beautiful dedication page.
Light Up a Life services 2021:
Bideford, The Pannier Market, Wednesday 8 December at 6.30pm
Torrington Methodist Church, Thursday 9 December at 6.30pm
Fremington, Methodist Church, Thursday 9 December 6.30pm
Woolsery, All Hallows' Church, Thursday 9 December at 6.30pm
Ilfracombe, Pip and Jims Church, Thursday 9 December at 6.30pm