Vicki McLoughlin, Clinical Director at Wigan and Leigh Hospice

The death of someone important to us can be devastating and we will normally feel a wide range of emotions.

Over the last few years during the pandemic we have not been able to grieve in the way we usually would – with the support of family and friends, at a memorial or funeral service or face to face with a health care professional.

Services, including the hospice, have had to find new ways to reach and support the bereaved.

Prior to the pandemic Wigan and Leigh Hospice held remembrance evenings every two to three months when the next of kin of a hospice patient, and other people close to the patient, were invited to the hospice.

Shared experience

Every time over 100 people would join us to remember their loved one in a shared experience.

At the Light for a Life service in December several people asked us when these remembrance evenings would return. From speaking to those visitors, and other people over the last few years, it is clear that the remembrance services, and the comfort they provided, have been missed. Even without speaking to people the sheer number of people who attended and felt a need to be at the hospice made it clear that people need an opportunity to mark the lives of loved ones. So many have not had that opportunity to do that in the last few years.


2,000 letters

In December we posted out almost 2,000 letters to people who were the next of kin to someone who died between September 2019 and October 2022 inviting them to one of six remembrance evenings we are holding in February and March.

The number of letters and the people that number represents is sobering and incredibly sad.

Although some of the people died over three years ago there is no time limit on grief.

Some people will have been lonely in their grief during the pandemic and the remembrance services will bring people together. They will be able to discuss their feelings with hospice professionals who can support them and meet other families who have had a similar experience.

People have spoken about a wave of grief hitting the nation following the pandemic. We haven’t seen that yet but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen; grief can affect people at unexpected times. It isn’t a journey with a beginning, middle and an end but something which continues for some time.


Further support

If you are grieving and need support please contact your GP for advice. Your GP will be able to support you and signpost you to other organisations which can help.