Judy Noble is one of several volunteers from churches in Wanstead and South Woodford who have been hosting Bereavement Cafés since 2016. Having stopped in lockdown, sessions will now resume virtually
We are about to start up our Bereavement Cafés again – by Zoom! We had been running these cafés for several years before lockdown, and now see our way to opening up again. The cafés offer a safe and friendly place for people who are struggling with the feelings of loss after the death of someone close to talk with others.
We are a group of volunteers from St Mary’s in South Woodford, Christ Church in Wanstead and St Gabriel’s in Aldersbrook. Anybody, with any faith or none, who wants a chance to talk about these things can join us.
“Grief doesn’t end with the funeral, but that is the point at which the level of community and social support we get from those around us can sometimes begin to lessen. As life for others returns to some sort of normality, it can be hardest for those experiencing the grief most profoundly to continue to process the thoughts and feelings they continue to feel, in many different ways and at unexpected times,” said Fr Martyn Hawkes when he helped found the cafés in 2016.
We are not therapists but we are very good listeners. We have some training and we have experienced something similar ourselves. Before lockdown, we offered these meetings in a café meeting space at St Mary’s or Christ Church. The atmosphere of quiet peace there created the calm which helps these conversations.
We know that, for many reasons, it can take a long time after a death to feel enough at ease with ourselves to get on with living our lives alongside our memories and thoughts about those we loved. You may have lived with this person for a long lifetime, had complex and important relationships with them, and experienced an unexpected and shocking loss. More so, perhaps, after COVID-19. We offer people space to talk about their situation over a cuppa when often this may be difficult to do within their own circle.
It’s not quite the same by Zoom but you can join us, in a comfortable chair, with your own cuppa to hand. In a few months, we hope to return to meeting properly, face to face. In the meantime, we hope you will join us online. The meetings are drop-in, so you can come once, come occasionally or come often. You’re always welcome to join in, share and listen. This starts, and sometimes finishes, in a group, but even on Zoom, we can organise space to talk to one another in a ‘break-out room’.
We will be offering a morning and an afternoon session every month. Mornings will start on 16 March from 10.30am to 11.30am (continuing on the third Tuesday of each month). Afternoon sessions will start on 6 April from 2pm to 3pm (continuing on the first Tuesday of each month). We look forward to meeting you there.