Bereavement is one of the main risk factors for experiencing loneliness. This is something Andrea Wren has seen first-hand through her work as funeral celebrant. Her experience of supporting people through loss and loneliness is what inspired her to raise funds for the Campaign to End Loneliness. In this blog, as part of National Grief Awareness Week, she tells us why this cause is so close to her heart.
This year has been hard on everyone. But it’s been especially hard on those who were already feeling the impacts of isolation and loneliness.
In my work as a funeral celebrant, I am regularly speaking to bereaved people. I frequently see people dealing with terrible loneliness after losing a loved one. For those with little to no friends or family to support them after losing their life partner or spouse, isolation can be excruciating.
Loss and Loneliness
Earlier this year I delivered the funeral service of the late wife of one older gent in his eighties – let’s call him Mr F. Aside from a neighbour who had escorted him to the funeral, there was not another soul there. Can you imagine being the only person present (who knew the deceased) at the funeral of someone who you had loved? He does have some family, but due to them living outside of the UK, they couldn’t make it to the funeral because of lockdown.
I couldn’t bear the idea of him being left with absolutely no one, so I have stayed in touch and I check in regularly to see how he’s doing. I’ve also found out about a local befriending service and have made a referral to that. I know all too well from him how it makes a world of difference just to have someone who cares. My wish is that one day, no one at all is ever left suffering terribly in loneliness.
“This year has been hard on everyone. But it’s been especially hard on those who were already feeling the impacts of isolation and loneliness.”
In a sense, it was Mr F that inspired me to raise funds for the Campaign to End Loneliness. I had become aware of the campaign since I was already volunteering for the charity Independent Age. At the beginning of this year, I trained to be a telephone buddy with them and I have regular telephone contact with an older lady who loves hearing from me. It’s not much of my time – but it gives some much-needed human contact to a person who is living alone and struggling with loneliness.
Making a difference
Lockdown has made this loneliness so much worse for many. I wanted to take some positive action. Therefore, for the month of October, I was teetotal – doing a ‘sober October’ as my fundraising scheme. My friends know I enjoy a glass (or two!) of vino, so it seemed like a good idea. A healthy challenge for me personally, while doing something good for the Campaign to End Loneliness – a charity that is dear to my heart, given the extent of loneliness that I see through my work.
Have I stayed tee total? I don’t think so!. But did I exceed my £250 target? YES! I raised over £280 and it was barely any effort. All I did was give up booze for a month and asked my friends to donate! And the best thing about it: I know the money is going towards an excellent cause and I hope it can help make a difference.