Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Bereaved families supported at Meningitis Now Forever Weekend

Clara Wiggins | 25th October 2019

Bereaved families gathered at our first ever Forever Weekend with the theme of Continuing Bonds to remember their loved ones in a safe and supportive space

Bereaved families supported at Meningitis Now Forever Weekend

Parents, older siblings, grandparents and others came from all over the country to share their experiences in beautiful and peaceful surroundings in Nottingham.

Although from different backgrounds all shared the common connection that they had lost someone to meningitis.

Cheryl Brown, Meningitis Now’s Support Services Manager, said the adults-only weekend had been a very special one.

“We have run Forever Days in the past but never a full weekend,” she said.

“We believe this gave participants time to really get to know each other and to feel comfortable enough with each other to be able to fully share their stories without feeling like they were going to be judged."

“From the wonderful feedback we received after the weekend, we know this was successful”.

As well as spending time talking to each other, the families attended workshops, watched the screening of a film about grief, and heard from Meningitis Now executive founder Steve Dayman – who lost his own son Spencer to the disease. 

The workshops included one by Catherine Seigal, author of “Bereaved Parents and their Continuing Bonds” and the film was “A Love that Never Dies” by film makers Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds, founders of the Good Grief Project. Jane and Jimmy, who lost their son Joshua at the age of 22, also led a workshop about how couples grieve differently.

Different perspectives

One of the participants at the weekend was Diane Ellis, who lost her four-year-old son Craig to meningitis just over 20 years ago. Tragically, she had lost his brother Ryan only eleven months earlier, shortly after he was born.

Diane said one of the things she really liked about the weekend was that people were able to share experiences from so many different perspectives – those, like herself, who had lost someone many years ago and those that had lost a loved one much more recently.

“My Craig died twenty years ago and there wasn’t as much support around then as there is today, I wish there had been something like this then,” she said. 

“But even now, so many years later, it really helps to be able to talk about it without anyone judging you.”

Lovely atmosphere

Diane, who went to the Forever Weekend with her partner, said it had been a really “lovely atmosphere” and that she had felt comfortable right from the start. She also said she had gone away from the event with about ten new friends, who she hoped to keep in contact with. 

“I think people liked having me there as I have been on this journey for a lot longer than many others,” she said.

“I was able to talk about all the ways I remember Craig, celebrating his birthdays and having his photos around the house, talking about him."

“I hope I was some support to those who have lost someone they love much more recently”. 

To find out more about the support we offer, including our support events, please visit our Get Support pages.

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