A central aspect of good palliative care is the continued support offered to bereaved families for as long as they need it. At Tŷ Hafan we feel hugely privileged that so many of our bereaved families stay in contact with us, in some cases for many many years. This contact takes a variety of forms but often is very informal with support to make the most of a range of social opportunities.
We do, of course, offer formal opportunities to remember the children and to come together as a community to support the bereaved families, which include a summer ‘Service of Remembrance’ and a ‘Christmas Thanksgiving Service’. Families come back to Tŷ Hafan safe in the knowledge that they will be offered comfort and time to talk about their child and the joy they brought. Each child is remembered by name, spoken during the service, their name engraved on a pebble and now also memorialised through our Birdsong project.
However, one of the truly special things that Tŷ Hafan is able to do is encourage bereaved families to join us for a busy calendar of exciting events which give families opportunities to come together in a safe space. These events provide much-needed social interaction, peer group support and opportunities to engage in informal emotional support from skilled staff. The team at Tŷ Hafan are continually dreaming up new events, often based directly on feedback from families. It is important to some families that they have opportunities to maintain relationships with other families they may have known through visiting the hospice and we host lots of events that are open to bereaved and non-bereaved families
Some recent events include indoor surfing, go-karting, fun days at museums, relaxation events, a Greek meal night and tree planting. By providing a range of activities, some of which are active and some more relaxing, we hope to appeal to all families. Each of these events gives us an opportunity to remind the families how privileged we feel to have been part of their children’s short lives and ensures the families know that we are there for them as long as they need us. We provide a safe space for them to explore their grief and the space left by their child.