Widow Anita praises hospice counselling during grief awareness week

A retired teaching assistant –  whose husband passed away 16 months ago – praised the bereavement counselling service at Pendleside Hospice, at the start of National Grief Awareness Week.

Anita Riley, 61, of Burnley, was referred to the hospice after her husband Gary, 53, former computer hardware engineer team leader at Blackburn College, died in August 2020, only two weeks after going into hospital.

 Anita said: “The grief of losing Gary made me very ill but the counselling and therapies I received at Pendleside gave me something to focus on. Without it I don’t know how I would have coped.”

The awareness week, from December 2 to December 7, is spearheaded by the Good Grief Trust and its spokesman said: “Grief needs immediate acknowledgment because bereavement can lead to serious mental and physical health issues.

“Grief does not discriminate and effects young and old, all faiths and religions, all cultures and all sectors of our community.”

 Family support team leader Simon Frauts organises the bereavement sessions at Pendleside.

 Anita was referred there by her GP but anyone can refer themselves when they feel the need for the service.

 Anita said: “I wasn’t aware of any of the services that Pendleside offered. Because of Covid restrictions at the time I had to receive counselling over the phone but Simon was fantastic. Each session lasted about an hour and I had quite a lot spread over six months.

“Simon talked about all kinds of things about me and Gary and allowed me to drive the conversation.

“Going to the hospice made me realise I wasn’t on my own. Without counselling I was finding it difficult talking to people and even going out of the house.”

Simon said: “We welcome anyone who is suffering grief because of a bereavement whether the person who has passed away has received care from the hospice or not”.

The Hospice is holding additional bereavement support sessions leading up to Christmas for anybody who is worried about how they might cope with bereavement during the festive period. For more information telephone the family support team 01282 440102.

Anita is so grateful for the help she has received from Pendleside that she is now a committed volunteer helping with the Living With Dementia group and the finance department on a Tuesday, delivering meals on wheels on a Wednesday, and supporting the Carers’ Group on a Saturday.

She said: “I can’t thank Pendleside enough. I absolutely love the place. If I could put up my tent on the car park I would!”