Under the current national restrictions, bereavement support groups of up to 15 people, held outside, have been able to continue, providing invaluable support at such as difficult time. In fact, as our Children's Social Worker Helen explains, we've been able to introduce a new group to specifically support bereaved dads who are adjusting to life as a single parent with young children.

You may be aware that the Hospice runs some Walk and Talk groups, based in Bushy and Richmond Park, which provide a valuable space for bereaved people to get together and talk whilst walking and enjoying the outdoors.  A few of the younger men there had said that although they really enjoyed going, they would also like to meet up with other dads in the same boat as them – having school age children, a job and managing everything on their own.  When a parent dies the remaining parent then has to be both mum and dad, sometimes to very young children, which is incredibly hard and for many men there is the added challenge of juggling work, learning how to cook maybe and also having to network with mums at school – a task generally done with ease by mums and not so much for dads.

The purpose of the new group is to provide a network for dads with school-age children, for them to feel more confident  to do things on their own, gain support from those with a shared experience and ultimately gain their own network.  Our first meeting at Bushy Park in October was a lovely morning  with 3 dads, who within a very short time were talking about how they were managing on their own, how they support their children and what they themselves find difficult.  We ended up having a coffee outside, and talking recipes as one of the dads is a chef – so useful as a few were not very confident with cooking, describing their food as ‘beige.’

The second walk in November, another sunny day, was also good, with two of the men talking about their shared experiences of their wives’ illnesses and how they are managing a year later.  Having a mix of men provides those newly bereaved with some hope and ideas of how the future may look and provides a chance to ask some questions and check a few things out.

A text received afterwards said, ‘ Thank you for inviting me yesterday, I really enjoyed my time out and think it’s a wonderful idea and just what men need.’

The walks (which are currently for those who have been referred to the Hospice Dovetail bereavement group) are planned for the third Tuesday of each month – initially at Bushy Park but varying depending on suggestions from the group.