Help for the bereaved is just one phone call away

The Bereavement Support Network helps English speakers who have recently lost a loved one

25 January 2017
By Jane Hanks

For most of us, losing someone will be the most devastating and distressing experience we will ever have to face.

The Bereavement Support Network (BSN), based in the Var, is a group of trained English-speaking volunteers who support the bereaved and terminally ill. They are there to listen to, assist and give practical advice to people anywhere in France who require their help.

President Mim Kay said it can be even more difficult if we are living in a foreign country, often separated from family and friends and living in a culture and system which is not fully familiar: “As volunteers, we have all experienced the loss of someone very close and can empathise with what others are going through.

“As expats, we also understand the difficulties of dealing with unfamiliar bureaucracy in another language which, when grieving, can seem even more daunting if not impossible.”

She says that it can be difficult for someone to pick up the phone but the group wants people to know that it can help in difficult times.

Mim says the group recognises that every individual faces grief differently and one of their key messages is to provide reassurance that whatever a person is feeling is normal. “Another common area of concern is that people feel that they do not want to burden their friends and family. 

“Often they are unable to express exactly how they feel to those closest to them for a variety of reasons. People contact us at various times after their loss.

“It can be in the following days, weeks or months or much later, sometimes years when perhaps another event has triggered or reignited deep feelings of grief.”

As well as emotional support, the Association provides practical advice including how to deal with the formalities following a death. Volunteers offer support by telephone or face to face if the person lives near enough – whatever method the individual prefers.

They will be there for the person for as long as they need support: “The length of time people need us varies.

“For some it can be two or three conversations, for others several weeks or months. We will support anyone, no matter for whom they are grieving: a spouse, partner, parent, child, friend, pet. The only limitation is that they are English speakers. The service is free and confidential.

“We believe that the single, most important thing we do is listen. Please, if you feel we can help, take the time to contact us.”

You can call Sandra on 04 94 84 64 89 or 06 32 35 31 24, email: info@bsnvar.org or log on to www.bsnvar.org The group is also looking for more volunteers to join.

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