Bereavement support gave Derek a new lease on life

14th November 2022

Man wearing green fleece, hat and sunglasses in snowy outdoor environment

When Derek Pratley from Navenby lost his wife, he never expected to gain a group of best friends who support each other through thick and thin and even go on holiday together.

In 2018 Derek sadly lost his cherished wife Sally, a caring woman who is much loved and missed by him, their family, and friends. Four and a half months after Sally passed away, Derek decided to seek help with his grieving.

After speaking with staff at St Barnabas Hospice, he attended his first Bereavement Counselling at the Catholic Church Hall, Sleaford. The meetings were led by several trained counsellors and attended by numerous attendees each week.

Derek says: “Walking through the door for the first time was the most difficult part. However, I was put at ease by the counsellors and other members of the group whose loved one had passed on, just like mine.

“I felt comfortable to open my heart and share my feelings of grief, in the knowledge that all those sitting around the table were experiencing similar emotions to me. I attended fourteen sessions which over time helped me considerably and gave me the confidence to move forward.”

At the end of the 14-week period, Derek was particularly friendly with three other attendees, and they decided to continue their friendship after the counselling sessions.

They would meet each other on a Sunday for lunch, as they often found that to be a lonely day with friends and family otherwise engaged. The four met at various pubs and restaurants in the Sleaford and Lincoln area, enjoying each other’s company and sharing their ups and downs. The group now has seven members and call themselves The Sundae’s.

Derek says: “We meet occasionally on Tuesdays to share experiences and challenges, have lunch, visit places of interest, go to the cinema, and, this year we had a week’s holiday in Norfolk. There is always something to look forward to each week with not only my family, but also my extended family, The Sundae’s.

“I feel that St Barnabas has given me a new lease on life after my loss and gaining such loyal and incredible friends has allowed me to move on – whilst always remembering Sally.”

Bereavement support is available for free to those who need it, including to people whose loved one did not access hospice care. To find out all the ways in which St Barnabas can support you with grief, visit:

Since Covid-19, group Bereavement Counselling sessions such as Derek’s are no longer available, however St Barnabas run several Bereavement Cafés each week.

These Cafés are a safe environment for you to drop in and access support not only from the St Barnabas bereavement team but also from other people in your own community. Currently, we have the following sessions up and running, free of charge for anyone to come to, without a prior appointment:

Grantham: First and third Tuesday of every month – 10am to 12pm – 86 Barrowby Road, Grantham, NG31 8AF

Boston: First and third Tuesday of every month – 2pm to 4pm – Novak House, Resolution Close, Boston, PE21 7TT

Drop-in Coffee Mornings, which much like the Bereavement Cafés are free for anyone to attend without appointment, are available across Lincolnshire.

These Coffee Mornings allow attendees to chat with other local residents and speak with St Barnabas staff and volunteers. Please note these sessions are not themed around bereavement, however many of our attendees find them to be helpful with fulfilling social needs and can be of help to those grieving.

To find out more about our Drop-in Coffee Mornings, visit:

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