Sometimes you can watch something on TV and know that across the country, millions of people are uniting in one heartfelt emotion; perhaps displayed in slightly different ways, but united all the same. Last night was such a time, when much of the nation watched the saddening swansong of Hayley Cropper who had pancreatic cancer and left the familiarity of Britain’s most well-known soap street forever. I suspect many would admit that tears did fall; that a stunned and saddened silence owned the room as the final credits rolled. To not be moved by the gut wrenching storyline was impossible; well it was in my house.
Yes, there’s the big debate; was this ITV advocating the controversial issue of terminally ill patients’ right to die? Perhaps, but for me, two other subtleties stayed with me long after the lull of the iconic theme tune finished.
Typical of Coronation Street, the distressing aired alongside the day to day; residents doing everyday things unaware of the devastation happening behind closed doors. Some of us do this I’m sure; being unaware of what happens in our communities, in our neighbours’ lives and I’m not suggesting that we start a ‘let’s get nosey about our neighbours’ campaign! But for me it did raise a question: how aware are we of what’s really happening to the people living closest to us; the important things? And if we aren’t aware, how could we possibly help support people in times of true need (if we wanted to and if they needed us to?).
Whatever the critics say, I believe that Coronation Street does epitomise what a community can be like. Forget the storylines for a moment; forget the serial killers, pin-ups, adulterers and alcoholics of contemporary Corrie, it’s the characters and unity of the people on that small cobbled street that sends a powerful message to me. There won’t be one resident unaware of the passing of Hayley; nor the pain that Roy faces in the aftermath. If the same happened in your street, in real life, how many people would know of it? Who could you turn to? Who would rally round support? More importantly, where do the quiet neighbours just like Roy go? The ones who nobody notices? Grief doesn’t lessen the more popular you are, it just doesn’t.
And speaking of Roy; the internal anguish of a quiet and ‘closed’ man, one whose life was thought to be complete who now has to contemplate a fragmented future without the (seemingly) one person who understood and knew him like no other could. Yes, Roy’s character is an enigma of sorts; a recluse and as such, would possibly be the last person to seek help and support from bereavement organisations, friends and neighbours. I personally couldn’t say that he represented most of the neighbours I know though, could you? And if his character isn’t representative, where do other people go for help in times of loss? Fortunately there are many organisations committed to supporting those grounded by grief (please see below).
For simply wondering how much of a difference I could make to my neighbours in a time of need, that’s a question I need to ask myself but I already know the answer… Do you know your answer? It’s not about the storyline, it’s really about what that street represents.
Bereavement organisations that could help you or someone you know.
Cruse Bereavement Care is the leading bereavement charity in the UK, with more than 100 branches and 6,000 volunteers nationwide. Its website offers help and support. You can find contact details for local Cruse services here http://www.cruse.org.uk/Leeds-area. As a carer you may feel more comfortable talking to other people who are in a similar situation. There may be support groups for carers in your local area.
Local hospices Wheatfields and St Gemma’s also offer support services.
Wheatfields offers support to any person bereaved of anyone who had a connection with the hospice as an in-patient or was supported by the Macmillan nurses. It offers telephone support, one to one support from bereavement visitors, bereavement counselling and a drop-in for those recently bereaved. To find out more email:firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 0113 278 7249
St Gemma’s also offers bereavement support to people who have been associated with the Hospice, but will sometimes accept referrals from others. The staff include qualified social workers, counsellors and volunteer bereavement visitors with counselling skills training.
Bereavement support is offered during the day and evenings at St Gemma’s or in people’s homes. Individual, group and drop-in meeting support is offered. More information can be found on http://www.st-gemma.co.uk or contact 0113 218 5502.
Carers Leeds Moving On Group is for people who have ceased their caring role as a result of bereavement. The Group offers a supportive environment in which to gain new interest and enjoy social events. Carers support workers are available for individual support, advice and information. To find out more email email@example.com or contact 0113 246 8338.
Neighbourhood Networks are part of the community working with older people and helping them live independently but as part of their own communities. The Networks provide free activities that reduce social isolation such as befriending schemes, opportunities for volunteering and information services. For someone recently bereaved Neighbourhood Networks provide friendship, care and help. There are 37 Neighbourhood Networks in Leeds offering support with the emotions that come with bereavement and grief. More information is available at http://www.leeds.gov.uk
Another useful source is the Leeds Bereavement Forum which offers people wanting support a Directory of Bereavement Services both on the website and as a booklet please look on http://www.lbforum.org.uk for more information.
If you need to talk to someone urgently The Samaritans offer a 24 hour listening service and you can even visit the centre for a face to face with a Samaritan between 10.00am and 10.00pm website http://www.samaritans.org or call the Helpline on 0113 245 6789.