Xmas Tree Festival

St Saviour’s Tree Festival is in full swing. I visited Sunday to see all the amazing trees decorated and sponsored by local charities and organisations.

This year there are two lovely memory trees where one can add a message in memory of a loved one lost. As we know it is a times like Christmas when we may be missing and remembering somebody we have lost this year. As I often post bereavement is not an overnight process and for those mourning the pressure to feel happy and festive can be overwhelming. For those who may have nursed a loved one with cancer the bereavement journey can be a complicated one with delayed grief mixed with feelings of relief that a loved one is no longer suffering.


Stroke Association

For any of my followers who may be recovering from a stroke or caring and supporting a family member of friend who has then please visit The Stroke Association’s website.

Having a stroke is extremely difficult emotionally as well as physically and this amazing charity has great support and information available.

Recovery really can be a step at a time, a day at a time, and, survivors need patience, positivity, love and understanding.

Christmas Tree Festival

For my local followers just reminding you all to find time to visit St Saviour’s St Albans Xmas Tree Festival which starts Saturday 16th opening at 12.00.

This is a beautiful event held at one of my favourite local churches entrance is free but donations are welcome. From the 16th -23rd there will be a number of events held with something for everyone and all ages. The Cafe is open all week until 4.30 daily. Aside of the various day time activities and craft fair please check for services on their website http://www.ssaviours.org

The wonderful display of trees is all sponsored and decorated by local charities and organisations. This year my own tree (jointly sponsored with Visual Merchandising) is to help raise awareness for Dementia and the Alzheimer’s Society, so if you manage to get along you will find our tree in the Lady chapel.


Kindness and time

My own mentor and amazing mother always used to say the best gift we can give is our time. As we approach the Christmas period we should be mindful of those that live alone or maybe have lost a loved one with year. The first Christmas may be the hardest the family will have to face.  I have always maintained that Christmas time can place huge pressures on people to be happy when actually they may be feeling sad for many reasons.

What we can all do is to make an effort to give our time when we can spare it and of course show a bit of kindness to those that would really appreciate the sentiment perhaps more so this year.

Speaking this week with a close friend we were both in agreement that those who are bereft need our consideration long after the funeral week…but perhaps we are all guilty of forgetting that at times.

Remember life goes by quickly but kindness on the other hand lasts for ever.

If you are feeling the pain of those who are missing try and remember the happy times you shared or a funny experience and keep their memory alive in a positive way as best you can.


Dementia awareness

Many of my friends and associates with aging parents are now faced with the challenge of dementia.

I cannot recommend highly  enough The Alzheimers Society for their support and advice. I know I post this on a regular basis but for those adapting their life they have amazing literature to help you support those you love. Please visist their website:


Love and protect the elderly

Now I know the world has gone completely mad. I am not one to shy away from technology and as my amazing mother used to say ‘don’t be beaten by man nor machine.‘ But, seriously, my lovely fellow bloggers and followers  do we really want robots looking after our elderly?

I work with clients with dementia and their families with some friends contemplating and facing putting their parents into nursing homes for various health reasons. The idea that they will be put in a room with a robot is crazy if not cruel.

Having visited various nursing homes what the residents need is the personal touch and social interaction to keep their spirits up and help fight loneliness. It is a huge and difficult period of adjustment when somebody leaves their family home to move into a nursing home. I’m sorry but a robot cannot monitor the wellbeing of humans.

These private nursing homes are making a fortune with many paying staff low wages and expecting a lot of the entertainment and other facilities to be met by volunteers. The idea they will save money by investing in robots just shows the mentality of what we are dealing with. It’s obvious a real case of business not personal care!

Many people approaching the age/stage of life to end up in a nursing home will be like me and think of robots as the cybermen from Dr Who or the classic series The Avengers of the 60’s and that is neither funny nor a entertaining thought.

Why can’t we be like other countries who value, respect and provide proper care for the elderly? The generation, in many cases who have fought for their country giving a huge chunk of their early lives in the process. What a great thank you…I am spitting feathers today I kid you not.


Distraction techniques

Throughout life most of us at one time or another will be in a position with either those we love and/or those we work with are in need of a positive distraction.

Even the most positive of souls can feel flat and I count myself in that category. At times we may be missing people, those who are no longer with us and even those who may have just moved away perhaps to university, or because of a job or home relocation.

Today would have been my own mentor’s birthday so I send out a happy birthday wish mum out into the universe. I will distract myself with work and meeting up with positive colleagues.

Working with dementia clients they too have their days when they feel ‘out of sorts’ and there are many ways in which we  can help either as counsellors or family members to help focus them on something they either enjoy or at least can be a positive interaction activity.

Similarly, distraction techniques work well with children, I know my mother practised this parenting skill with us as children. I utilised this myself recently when helping a family with small children –one is always mindful that when parents leave the house the children need to feel, happy safe and of course engaged.  A simple game of cards including all children soon brought an opportunity to engage, have fun and for me to get to know the children’s individual characters. (If I am honest working with younger children this week helped me with my own feelings relating to empty nest!)

As with adults, children will become sad at times…using being bored as an excuse when really what they crave it not just your loving attention but engagement.

Keeping occupied helps prevents those flat moments from taking over…and finally of course, laughter the best therapy of all.

Keep smiling fellow bloggers and followers.

Bereavement support in schools

Whatever the bereavement situation our children may find themselves in there will always be a ripple effect on their behaviour and relationships. It may be that they have lost somebody close within the family unit and/or been touched perhaps by the loss of a friend or neighbour. These feelings may levae them feeling isolated and fearful.

Children often find it difficult to vocabularise their emotions and therefore it is vital that they are given the opportunity to discuss how they are feeling. As ever I always recommend that their school are kept in the loop about anything which may affect their wellbeing and possibly their school work.

Please read my piece on Innovate My School’s website:-



Coping with grief?

The title of my blog today many would say is a contradiction in terms, and, of course it is. The British way is to appear to cope when really the journey through bereavment is a struggle and supressing those feelings only adds to the pain.

For those who may have nursed a loved one through cancer, to a certain degree the bereavement process has already started as we see our loved ones slip away.

As I frequently write we keep our loved ones alive in our heart and our mind and the TV Dr Hilary on the Lorraine programme echoed that fact today. He also agreed how it is far better to let our grief out and share and talk about our feelings.

My own personal experiences have made me determined to talk to the bereaved rather than avoid them or talking about their loss. As always it is kinder to give them the opportunity to talk, cry and realise you probably won’t have the right words. However, listening and checking they are OK is a start…and not just the week of the funeral it is the weeks, months and even years that they need your friendship and continued support.

Nobody copes…we may feel anger, sad, guilt, depressed along with a whole host of feelings which are beyond our control hour by hour in those initial weeks..but coping probably isn’t one of them.

There are of course great support charities around and steering somebody towards them and/or a counsellor if appropriate would be the act of a true friend.