A bereavement support group has been started in Torbay by a woman who struggled with the unexpected deaths of both her mum and sister.
“It’s hard talking about grief, it’s even harder when you do and then you can’t get the support you need,” said founder Bexs.
“Grief wasn’t something I spent much time thinking about until I was faced with the cold reality of tragically losing both my sister and mum. Both deaths unexpected.
“The reality of losing two of the most important women in my life left me with my own mental health struggles. A struggle that quickly took hold of my happiness, joy, purpose and sense of self. If I can be candid, it left me feeling broken, lost, fragile, angry, anxious, depressed and alone.
“We had a further agonising six- to eight-month wait for an inquest into my sister’s death. As a family, we were broken.
“The anxiety, the questioning, the ‘what ifs’, the guilt, blame, shame, sadness, rage had all taken its toll.
“My mum developed PTSD as a result of the trauma from my sister’s death, along with her own mental health struggles. She sadly died two years later.
“There was no recognition from professional agencies that an inquest would be traumatic, no after care support, no follow up, no check in, nothing.
“Little did I know I would then face my own struggle with getting the help and support I needed to cope and recover.
“The first battle was trying to get people to understand the severity of pain I was in and the loss I felt. The phrases ‘give it time’, ‘they’re at peace now’, ‘you’re strong, you will get through this’ all added to the lack of understanding around the impact of grief. So I began to internalise my feelings and stopped sharing how I felt.
“I tried to reach out to my GP for support. To be met with the question we all get asked when trying to arrange an urgent face-to-face appointment ‘Is this an emergency?’.
“That immediately made me question if mental health was seen as a priority, you suddenly start to put yourself on a sliding scale of what would be considered an emergency. As it was, a telephone appointment was offered.
“I had to try and describe and explain the pain and loss I felt in a five-minute call to a complete stranger, a doctor who didn’t know me and nor me them.
“The end result was medication. It took me another four months of waiting to get therapeutic support.
“I conducted a local survey on the impact of bereavement which had over 100 responses and findings showed like me, 84 per cent of bereaved individuals reported struggling with depression and anxiety. A further 63 per cent reported poor mental health and 52 per cent said they struggled to access local support.
“People were being let down by services because of funding cuts, long waiting lists and lack of service provision. Reading these comments made me want to take action. The bereaved community were being let down and they deserved better.
“So, I founded Losing Our Sense of Self (LOSS) back in 2019. It’s an online peer to peer bereavement support group aimed at raising awareness of the impact of grief and providing a safe online space for like-minded bereaved adults to come together and talk about loss.
“I also applied for funding administered through Torbay Community Development Trust to produce a self-help guide. It’s supported by local organisations, counsellors, mental health and wellbeing practitioners who contributed articles to help bereaved individuals understand and normalise grief responses and feelings.
“A small but vital step, one I hope will help others to realise they’re not alone.”
Find Bexs’ group at www.facebook.com/losingoursenseofself
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