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Living well with grief : insights on bereavement support
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Pamela McgrathPamela Mcgrath
This article presents the results of an evaluation of a recently developed bereavement support group, known as 'Living Well with Grief' (LWWG) program, for individuals coping with the death of a family member through cancer. The positive feed-back from this evaluation not only emphasises the importance of such a support group, but provides clear insights into constructive processes that facilitate individuals' ability to cope with grief. The evaluation of the LWWG program was conducted through a focus group held at the completion of the program, and an author-designed questionnaire distributed to the program participants. This focus group was audio-recorded, transcriped verbatim, and analysed through qualitative methodologies using the NUD*IST computer package. The questionnaire included rating scales and also allowed lots of space for open-ended comment. The questionnaire was distributed to all participants at the end of the course with a self-addressed envelope for return. The response rate for the questionnaire was 80% (n=8). The quantitative data was entered on SPSS and the open-ended comment was analysed using thematic analysis techniques on a word processor. The findings indicated that LWWG is a successful program. Participants provided information on the profound need for such programs (based on the need to talk, the pressure to 'get over grief quickly', problems with family support, intensity of grief including suicidal ideation, and lack of alternatives); the key aspects of the programs success (including the focus on grief, an understanding of grief, the space to talk about real feelings, the normalisation of feelings, providing a sense of being listened to and understood, warmth and caring, group bonding, and laughter); and the important positive outcomes for participants (including improved self image, improved understanding of others, positive effects of sharing feelings, improved ability to cope, gaining a sense of hope and a capacity to move on).