A quiet service of comfort for all in the times of loss

Gloria Birdsall from Stepping Stones bereavement group at St Thomas' Parish Church in Caunce Street, Blackpool.
Gloria Birdsall from Stepping Stones bereavement group at St Thomas' Parish Church in Caunce Street, Blackpool.
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“We’re here to help.”

That’s the message from the Stepping Stones bereavement support group.

While the project operates from St Thomas Parish Church, on Caunce Street, Blackpool, the dedicated volunteers are keen to get the message across they are there to help anyone, of any faith, of no faith, or from any congregation.

The church holds a Stepping Stones reflection time three times a year – in March, June and September. And the next one will take place on Sunday.

It will mean an opportunity for people to go to the church and sit quietly to reflect, to light a candle for a loved one, take Holy Communion, or stop for a cup of tea or coffee and have a one-to-one chat with one of the bereavement team members, who are trained in bereavement awareness and listening.

Gloria Birdsall, licensed reader at the church, who runs the project, said: “We offer this service three times a year and just want to let members of the local community know about it.

“It’s open to anyone who has suffered a loss.

“It might be the death of a loved one, relative or friend, it might be the breakdown of a relationship or marriage, it could be the loss of home and friendships due to relocation, it could be the loss of a job or even the loss of hopes and dreams that bring disappointment.

“They don’t have to be members of the church, they don’t have to regularly go to church, there’s no pressure.

“People can talk, they can read scripture, they can sit quietly – whatever suits them. Our bereavement team members are trained and will sit and listen and provide support, too, if that’s wanted.

“It’s not just for adults, it’s open for children, too.

“And it might be when someone comes to us, just talking it through and understanding what they’re feeling is OK, might be enough.

“Or they may want to come to see us again and stay in our service for as long as they need.

“I think perhaps bereavement is something of a taboo subject. But we want people to know this is somewhere they can come, to talk, and not be judged.”

Lyn Walker, bereavement listener, said: “We want people to feel comfortable. It’s such a difficult time when a person is bereaved and suffering loss.

“People may be offered grief counselling, but that can sound quite daunting.

“At such an emotional time, it might help people to know our service is here, with no pressure.

“It’s about working with people, to be able to live with it – because it doesn’t just go away.

“And everybody is different, feels differently and has their own experiences, so we always treat everyone as an individual.”

As well as the three sessions a year, Stepping Stones also runs two All Saints (Souls) Day Services in November, when people can come together to remember loved ones they have lost.

Pictures and names are read out of those who have passed away.

And at Christmas, there is a special afternoon tea. This event offers a chance for widows and widowers to come together for fellowship during the festive season. There is tea, coffee, cakes, scones, a Bible quiz and singalong to Christmas hymns.

For more information about Stepping Stones and the bereavement ministry, call (01253) 399276 or go along on Sunday, to St Thomas Church, Caunce Street, from 3pm until 5pm.