Living well with grief
Our Grief Support Services Manager, Shirley Cunningham, talks about our grief services, being alone and the positives outweighing the challenges.
The Leukaemia Foundation is quite unique in that we offer a holistic approach in caring for patients, carers and families. We offer support from the beginning of their journey at diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond, but also through the process of grief and loss.
Many who lose a loved one leave the hospital and feel very alone, particularly if they do not have the support of family and friends. Parents who lose a child have usually spent a lengthy time in hospital, and when they leave they can feel forgotten and isolated.
We see our grief services as a crucial element of our holistic approach to care. Grief is a common experience for all of us and while not everyone needs specialised support, others need it very much.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the area of loss and grief through witnessing the devastating effects it can have on people and those around them. I trained as a registered nurse and specialised in haematology/oncology in both children and adults. I also have a Graduate Certificate in Paediatrics, a Masters in Counselling and a Masters in Health – Loss and Grief.
I’m presently studying my Graduate Diploma in Psychology which will lead to a psychology degree. I have also studied hypnotherapy at an advanced level.
As a nurse in the oncology/haematology units I saw the need for people to take time to express their emotions after experiencing loss. Unfortunately nursing didn’t allow me to spend time with people, so I studied and began work at the Leukaemia Foundation.
To be allowed into people’s lives at such a vulnerable time is a humbling and gratifying experience. There are challenges of course, but the positives far outweigh them.
What grief support services does the Leukaemia Foundation offer?
Counselling with an experienced and skilled counsellor is available face-to-face in your home or our office, or over the telephone.
We also have group support programs including Grief Brunches, Living Well with Grief programs and the Bereaved Parents’ Weekend.
Our Living Well With Grief newsletter is published twice-a-year and includes a range of articles on issues relating to grief and bereavement.
Who can access our grief service?
We off our ranges of services, free of charge, to those who have experienced the loss of a loved one through a blood cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and related blood disorders.
We have recently expanded our Grief Support Brunches from Brisbane in to regional areas including Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, and Hervey Bay.
If you would like to speak to our Grief Support Services Manager, or find out more information about our group support programs, call 07 3055 8233.