36th Annual Conference

STOP PRESS: Conference 2018 will be held on Wednesday 31st October at Mosaic Synagogue, Harrow. More details to follow (early summer).


“Everyone wants a miracle.” Those were the words of our guest speaker at the 36th Annual Bereavement Care Conference held at Mosaic Reform Synagogue on November 1st.

Jim Kuykendall, a Gestalt therapist, clinical supervisor and lecturer, said: “If you think you have to provide a miracle, that’s a heavy burden. They want us to bring the person back, or make the pain go away, but we are not miracle workers.”

Speaking to a variety of religious and specialist groups and individuals, Jim said it was our role to support clients going through the pain of bereavement and guide them through the process.

He said: ”Our role is to accept where they really are, rather than where they, or society would like them to be. Unlike Brexit, bereavement means bereavement. It is a long-term process like a roller-coaster. Be present with them; just be.”

He said compassion was the key, towards ourselves, as well as our clients, and patience, “many people feel guilty for not feeling resilient enough.”

He spoke of the importance of normalising bereavement: “you can be angry twice. We must not try to compress a client’s grief to fulfil an organisation’s remit. If bereavement is not processed it never goes away. It is repressed.”

He added unprocessed bereavement could lead to aggression and mental health issues.

In response to feedback from last year’s conference, this year’s theme was Re-Visiting, a fresh look at bereavement support.

A series of workshops, led by experts, were held throughout the day, including boundaries, is listening enough, opening doors to children and young people, beginnings and endings.

Judy Silverton, chair of the conference planning committee, welcomed everyone and thanked them and various sponsors for their support. A superb lunch was made and served by a group of volunteers.

Jane Harrison