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Nursing team helping relatives cope with dying and grief

Bereavement Clinical Nurse Specialists

Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 8  - Sunday 14 May, is about encouraging everyone to talk about what is – for many – one of the most difficult, challenging and personal things in life: death, dying and grief.

A group of nurses are helping relatives of patients who have died at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust through this most difficult of times.

Natasha Christmas, Kim Kidd and Laura Cook have worked at Basildon, Southend And Broomfield hospitals in different roles for many years, before coming together as Bereavement Clinical Nurse Specialists.

Natasha said: “Everyone should be offered the service of a bereavement nurse when a loved one has passed away, we can be there to help and offer support. We don’t have any time constraints so we can spend as much time with a patient’s family and friends as they need.

“We may meet them just the once, or a year later we could still be meeting them two or three times a week. It’s about being there for whatever that person, or people, need.”

The team is a relatively new Trust-wide service, with Natasha in her role for five years, Kim who previously worked as a Community Matron joining her two years ago and Laura, just last week. Together, they look after families and patients aged 28 days onwards, the family of anyone younger is cared for and supported by one of our bereavement midwives.

Kim said: “People don’t remember what you said, or what you did when someone dies but they do remember how you made them feel. It’s important to us that we give whatever support is needed. For that patient it’s the last thing you can do for them, you only have one chance to get it right and their family will remember it forever.”

Natasha added: “As well as being here for patients and their loved ones, we’re also here to support staff. This is something that a lot of teams don’t realise but we are here for them too. it could be anything from a one-to-one chat over a cup of tea, to offering an entire team a debrief to help process a traumatic event.”

Laura said: “There’s a stigma around grieving and a lack of understanding about what it means to be ill and what happens when you’re dying. We want people to be comfortable talking about it. Starting the conversation is not always as hard as you might think.”

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