Wigan widow uses her own grief to set up bereavement cafes where people can talk

A Wigan mum inspired by the death of her husband is bringing people together to talk about their own bereavements.
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She struggled to get support for herself and their children, so took matters into her own hands and trained as a grief and loss specialist.

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Jane DixonJane Dixon
Jane Dixon
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Jane, who lives in Hindley Green, has since set up The Bereavement Cafe CIC, a pop-up service moving around Wigan, Bolton and the surrounding areas to offer peer-to-beer support to people who are grieving.

It provides an opportunity for people to meet others in the area going through similar situations, develop friendships, share advice and create hope.

Jane said: “The cafes are doing really well, in particular the one we host in Hindley within Six Six Three coffee bar is constantly growing with new people coming along every month.

"We aren’t counselling and want to make accessing grief support as stress-free, comfortable and easy as possible, so we don’t have a booking system – which can cause many anxiety, but come if you want and don’t worry if you aren’t feeling it that particular day.

Steve Dixon died while on holiday in Dubai in June 2018Steve Dixon died while on holiday in Dubai in June 2018
Steve Dixon died while on holiday in Dubai in June 2018
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"We like to use local coffee/tea shops to ease any stigma around accessing support – if you’re seen walking into a coffee shop, nobody would turn a blind eye as to what you’re doing. We also like using local small businesses so that the funding we get to host the cafes are going back into the communities.

"We offer a relaxed, informal and safe space to come along, have a cuppa and a chat with those who are feeling the same or similar emotions. There is never any pressure to talk or join in. Many have said they’ve found just sitting and listening to others and learning that how they feel is normal has helped them. It can help those who are feeling lonely and isolated by putting them in touch with others within their community.”

Jane believes it is important that support is on offer for people who have lost a loved one, no matter how long ago.

She said: “I can completely understand not wanting to see a counsellor – I didn’t – and those who won’t will have their reason. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still talk and we really do need to become a nation that stops thinking that its possible to get over grief easily, or that it doesn’t last.

Pop-up cafes are held at several venues in the areaPop-up cafes are held at several venues in the area
Pop-up cafes are held at several venues in the area
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"We need to have the confidence to have a conversation with someone who is struggling with their emotions six months or 16 years down the line.”

The Bereavement Cafe also runs youth bereavement cafes for young people coping with loss and works with businesses to help them support members of staff.

Jane said: “We are always encouraging people to talk more about grief, and be more open about their feelings, and also on the other side, we want to empower people to have the confidence to be able to hold a conversation with someone who is struggling with grief.”

The pop-up cafe at Six Six Three is held on the last Thursday of the month, with the next one on April 27.

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