WHAT IS THE BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT NETWORK (BSN)?
We are a group of volunteers who offer support to the bereaved or the terminally ill and their families. This support is available to any English speaker no matter whom s/he is grieving – a family member, spouse, partner, child, pet or a friend. As our volunteers all live within the Var, meetings with individuals are limited to the Var and its immediate environs but we can also provide support via the telephone or online. Services are totally confidential and are given free. (We fundraise separately in order to pay any expenses we incur.)
The BSN volunteers have a variety of professional skills and relevant experience and we are all members because either we have experienced the loss of someone close to us and know the value of support or we have joined the group simply because we wish to use our skills and experience to help those who have been bereaved. Our president is one of the volunteers, Mim Kay, who is a qualified counsellor. She acts as the trainer and all volunteers are required to go through a comprehensive training course before being allocated a client to support.
WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “SUPPORT”?
In general, it means being there for someone; being the listening ear. Sometimes being reassured that what they feel is perfectly normal can be comforting on its own. We know that very often when someone is bereaved here in France they do not necessarily have any immediate family to turn to. In addition, they may have their own health issues to contend with. Their situation can be very complex, especially if there are family divisions or disagreements which arise as a result of the loss.
At a time of loss, everyday life can seem to be strewn with hurdles and they can appear overwhelming. Perhaps they were tasks that your partner dealt with? Sometimes it’s easier to ignore them. Perhaps deal with them when you’re in a better frame of mind? The trouble is, they don’t go away – they increase in size and number and, before long, the reminders start to arrive or the debit card is blocked or the car insurance expires. That’s when the support of an objective, non-judgemental, individual such as a BSN volunteer can be invaluable. Grief can be, and often is, compounded by other problems, some of which existed before the loss and others which have arisen since. Talking about their situation can help the client to get things into a better perspective and to get to grips with their administrative backlog.
Some people do find it difficult to talk about their loss. In fact, they find it difficult to ask for help. In some cases they simply feel that they shouldn’t need it. This often seems to apply to men who sometimes adopt the “stiff upper lip” approach to dealing with their loss but grief is the same for them as it is for women. They can need just as much support to help them to cope with their bereavement.
So, if, when you read this, you feel that you would benefit from our support, please don’t hesitate to contact Sandra on 04 94 84 64 89 or 06 32 35 31 24. She will take preliminary details from you and a volunteer will contact you soon after. Or, if you know someone who would benefit from our support, why not encourage them to make contact with us?
Alternatively, if you feel that your personal skills and/or experience enable you to provide support to bereaved individuals or those affected by a terminal illness, why not call to discuss the possibility of joining the BSN volunteers?
•With thanks to Mim Kay, President of the Bereavment Support Network