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Helping us help the bereaved

Funeral Zone’s mission is to help the bereaved and like most workplaces in the country, our team is made up of people who have been touched by the death of a friend or loved one in our lives.

From our support team to web developers, we all share a commitment to ensuring help is available at a distressing time for those who need it most, when they are coping with grief.

When experienced counsellor Tracey McHardy paid a visit to our Exeter office this week, it was a valuable opportunity for us to learn more about how grief after the death of someone can affect us all in different ways.

In a thought-provoking and moving group session with the Funeral Zone team, Tracey covered topics showing how grief can affect us in sometimes complicated ways.

Tracey is a counsellor with Exeter-based charity The Margaret Jackson Centre which provides low-cost counselling, including bereavement support, for people going through depression and life-affecting changes.

For 10 years prior to that, she was a member of the volunteer counselling team at Cruse Bereavement Care in Devon, which takes calls, pays home visits and opens its Exeter office doors to the grieving. She explained how Cruse relies on charitable donations to provide its support to people when they’re at their most vulnerable. She’s still a passionate advocate for the charity, which greatly values every donation that enables it to help the bereaved and ensure they are not overlooked.

During her workshop, eight volunteers from the Funeral Zone team took part in an ‘empathy sculpt’ – role-play exploring how different relationships can influence the ways we are affected by someone’s death. Among the emotions it uncovered were feelings of loss and grief, bewilderment and guilt, as well as our sense of place – or distance – from the person who’s died and other people who knew and loved them, when we are coping with bereavement.

Tracey explained: “It’s a visual representation of what happens to families and friendship groups when someone dies.”

Although thoughts of close family immediately spring to mind, so many other people can be touched by grief, or feel isolated, when somebody dies.

It made us think more about just how someone’s death can make an impact on our lives and, whether it is an estranged family member, friend or colleague we’ve lost, we can all experience grief and may need support to come to terms with it.

Tracey explained that she’s taken many calls from people who feel they may burden other mourners with their own feelings of sorrow and are unsure how to cope with the grief.

"Some people who ring are often in great distress, but don't want to upset their family by talking about it," she said.

Funeral Zone’s head of digital, Gary Moyle, was part of the team who took part in the exercise and said: “It was a very visual way of exploring human dynamics and showing that all grief is unique and complicated.

“At Funeral Zone our mission is to help the bereaved, whatever the connection they shared with the person who has died.Tracey’s visit helped us think about how we provide that bereavement support, whenever people who are grieving need it.”

Tracey said: “I was so impressed by what valuable work Funeral Zone is doing to support people who are bereaved at the worst times in their lives.”

Bereavement support charities and committed counsellors like Tracey play an incredibly important role in people’s lives,” said Gary. “Sharing more about what they do and learning from them is a hugely meaningful part of our own mission to help the bereaved.”