In February 2020, Bereavement Team Leader, Helen Williams came out of a Purple Group meeting with absolutely no idea that it would be the last one for a very long time. We sat down with her recently to find out how the Pandemic has affected the support we offer our Bereaved families over the last year. 

“When we came out of that meeting in February, we had no clue that things would spiral as they did. We’d already pencilled in a date for May, and that one didn’t happen. Then July came, and went. We suddenly realised that we’d have to adapt the group and change the way we worked.”

Helen sat down with the Clinical Psychologist, who supports the Jessie May nurses, and they discussed the best way forward to ensure that the team could continue to support bereaved families.  

“I wasn’t sure at first whether it was appropriate to take the Purple Group into the ‘virtual’ world, but then we realised that if we didn’t, these parents would go months and months without that support they’ve grown to rely on.”

In September 2020, Helen and Shirley held the very first online Purple Group meeting, not knowing how it would be received. 

“I think the thing that’s been the most pleasant surprise of all is that it’s given us the opportunity to meet parents that wouldn’t normally attend the group. We’ve had a new parent attend, for whom we’ve been providing with Bereavement support for years, and even a couple of Dads were able to join since they’re now working from home!”

Since then, the Bereavement Team have held 3 virtual meetings to date, all with various degrees of success. 

“In our most recent meeting we had 6 parents attend, which doesn’t sound many, but for us was a fantastic turn out! We’re able to discuss with them how they feel about the changes in social restrictions lifting, whether they’re nervous or excited – and really just able to give them an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings on the situation!”

Looking ahead, it is difficult to tell whether these meetings are going to remain virtual, go back to face-to-face or be a mixture of the two. 

“We’ve tentatively pencilled in the next meeting, with restrictions lifting once again, to ease back in to things and meet at a local park. Parents can have a little more freedom, bring the family (dogs always welcome) and have a socially distanced ‘walk and talk’ session – weather permitting of course!”

The Purple Group was founded by one of Jessie May’s bereaved Mums, and usually meet up to 5 times a year. There is no fixed agenda at these meetings, instead designed to be led by parents themselves, covering topics of their choosing. It is a safe space, in which families are able to share their inner thoughts and feelings amongst others in the same situation.  

Our Bereavement Team are made up of Helen Williams, Bereavement Team Leader, and Shirley Thomas, Bereavement Support. 

Like our service, the Bereavement Support our team offer is entirely free. You can help our Bereavement Team continue supporting families through the 5 years after the loss of their child, by donating today.  

Helen Williams - Bereavement Team Leader