THE devastation of losing a loved one can take years to come to terms with – and many people never fully get over their loss.

But with the right help and support, people can start to get their lives back together after the trauma of losing a loved one.

Family bereavement support co-ordinator Christine Green leads the hospice’s services, which include counselling, drop-in bereavement café, walking group, and services of remembrance.

Mrs Green said: “People often think the first year is going to be the worst because there are all the firsts – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas – but the second year can be worse for a lot of people because that is when they realise this is what their life is going to be like.”

Bereavement staff and volunteers are fully trained and Mrs Green points out the most important thing is to treat people as individuals.

She said: “When it is a parent, they have been there your whole life and people feel they need to be strong for their surviving parent, or cannot show their true feelings in front of their own children. There should be no expectations of what someone should or shouldn’t do. Everyone is an individual and reacts differently and that is how we support them.”

Volunteer Pat Moon began helping at the hospice after the death of her husband, Derek, in 2017. Her daughter, Sam Duncan, the hospice’s head of retail and volunteer services, asked if her mum would help in the kitchen because they were short staffed.

Mrs Moon said: “Five weeks after Derek died, Sam asked if I could help out and I have never left!

“Everything about it, from the care and support we received to being able to help other people has helped me get through to where I am today. To be able to help here means everything to me.

“I still have bad days, but coming here and talking to people and helping people helps me so much.”

The hospice holds twice-yearly remembrance services and invites recently bereaved families to remember their loved ones.

Support such as this is a big help to families, as Mrs Moon knows first-hand.

She said: “It is a step forward. You are with other people who have lost loved ones. It is such a lovely service.”

The hospice also holds a drop-in bereavement café and a walk and talk group.

Mrs Green said: “The walking group has brought a different, positive energy to the hospice and they have become friends and organise social events together. They are even having their own Christmas do.”

The Sunflower Group supports families with children aged five to 11 who have lost someone important in their lives.

Mrs Green said: “We have seen some amazing results and it helps give them the confidence to deal with what they are going through.”

Mrs Moon said: “The sessions are amazing and we really look forward to helping them and it is a privilege to be involved.”

Volunteer and hospice nurse Patsy Gibson said: “Children see that other children are going through the same thing and that helps. By the end of the first session, you can see the change. The difference it makes is amazing.”

One person supported by the service said: “I found it helpful listening to others and how they have coped, to know that what I’m going through is normal and know that my daughter is doing okay and her way of processing is normal too.”

Another said: “It got me talking about my loss and emotions that I normally wouldn’t have talked about. It helped me feel better and to start talking to my wife and kids about it.”