When Jane Whitfield, our Head of Trusts & Charities, saw Linda Magistris, the CEO of The Good Grief Trust, on BBC Breakfast earlier in June talking about The Good Grief Trust charity, and in particular their new COVID-19 National Bereavement Support Helpline, she was so impressed that she contacted the charity the minute the programme had finished to find out more about their work. Jane reflects her experiences in this article.
The first thing that hit me when I was watching Linda Magistris on the television, was how real all this is for her. Linda was in the original cast of Grange Hill and later worked TV and film with her husband, until he was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer, and he died just over five months later. This is not just a job for Linda, this is part of our daily life experience.
Linda explains that, “the 3 years since his death have been enlightening and a real journey of discovery, waking up to the reality of life and death, and realising the urgent need to join the dots across the country, to bring us altogether to share our stories and to try to make things a little better for all of us who lose someone we love”.
When I opened the charity’s website I found it very easy to navigate. Sometimes, websites with super-easy navigation can lack meaningful content, but this is definitely not true with this charity’s website. It is packed full of helpful advice and personal, heart-warming stories, as well signposts for places where people can get help. It is as user-friendly a website could possibly be.
In the dedicated COVID pages on the website, I read this: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to anyone who has suffered a bereavement through the Coronavirus, or under any circumstance during these uncertain and disturbing times. We want you to know that you are not alone and we will try our best to guide you in the right direction. All of us at The Good Grief Trust have lost someone close, so we want to help you find the support you need as quickly as possible.”
What struck me is that this was reaching out to people in the darkest moments of their lives, full of grief and confused about what life will look like for them now. Nowhere did it ask for my money, or for my time as a volunteer or a fundraiser. No adverts popped up and I was guided to information that could help me, rather than any virtual tin-rattling.
Yes, the charity does have an emergency appeal on the go at the moment, called the “Coronavirus Emergency Fund”. Like almost every single charity in the country at the moment, their funding has been drastically cut due to events being cancelled. The Good Grief Trust’s position is that it is vital that they ensure that anyone bereaved during this coronavirus crisis is signposted to a choice of immediate support for their grief. And you can find out about the emergency appeal on their website. But this appeal is not the first thing that you read when you reach their homepage. All of the focus is on expressing empathy and understanding for those who are grieving.
On the BBC Breakfast programme, Linda held up a card which she called their new “Good Grief Card” (see below). It is a warming bright orange colour, as is their website. It combines a condolence card with a durable plastic credit card insert which, when removed, may be kept in your purse or wallet.
These cards are proving a vital resource, ensuring people who are bereaved receive a choice of help from day one and that they know they are not alone in their grief.
In the Private Client team here at Barrett & Co, we come into contact every week with people who have recently lost someone. Every family landscape is different, and each journey families take after a loved one has died is unique. Whilst we are experienced in walking with families along that journey, we recognise that we may only be one piece in the jigsaw.
It is therefore heartening to discover this wonderful charity to which we can signpost our clients as part of that journey. We ordered a stack of the Good Grief Cards and are now committed to taking them with us whenever we are meeting bereaved clients for the first time.
If you would like to talk to us about what is involved in the probate process, or would like some help in administering someone’s estate, please contact Jane Whitfield at [email protected] or on 0118 958 9711.
Get in Touch
Jane Whitfield can meet with you to discuss your personal circumstances, your options and your next steps. This would normally take place in our office in Reading, Berkshire. During the coronavirus situation, however, all of our meetings are currently being carried out either by telephone or by video link.
If you would like to meet with Jane, please telephone the office so that an appointment can be made for you. If you would like to take up our offer of a one-hour £95 fixed fee meeting, please click for more details.
Jane is a Solicitor specialising in Private Client matters. Jane is a qualified Trusts & Estate Practitioner with STEP (Society of Trusts & Estates Practitioners) and a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, as well as being a Dementia Friends Champion. Jane is also President of the Berks, Bucks & Oxfordshire Law Society.