The third and final season of Ricky Gervais’ After Life has finally dropped on Netflix and as we watch Gervais’ character, Tony, navigate through heart-breaking grief we reflect on what bereavement means at Demelza.

Bereavement support

Bereavement doesn’t start at end of life, it often begins from the point of diagnosis. Demelza’s Bereavement Team are available from early on to support families through the most difficult of times - from memory-making to practical support, through to virtual and in-person bereavement groups and events, which will remain available to Demelza families in the months and years ahead.

After Life follows the story of a man, Tony, after his wife, Lisa, passes away from breast cancer. The dark comedy reinforces that there is no one way to respond to grief. Yet through his heartbreak, ultimately, Tony chooses hope. At Demelza, we remain committed to helping others understand grief and making it easier to start those open conversations – because sometimes, just a few words can make all the difference.

Some of the parents we support have shared a few words of wisdom, to help others understand how they can be supported during bereavement.

“Hope is everything”

A key theme of the hit series is “hope is everything”. Even when things may seem hopeless, hope can be found in many places, from a conversation with a loved one to sitting in reflective silence.

Throughout the show we see Tony visiting his wife’s grave, he sits on a bench and talks to her. As he sits graveside, he is soon befriended by a woman, Anne – who has also experienced loss. She becomes somewhat of a confidant to Tony and he is able to speak to her openly about his feelings, eventually starting his journey towards peace.

Demelza’s Therapeutic and Bereavement Lead, Jo Burton, shares: "Finding tranquillity in a busy world can be challenging. Having to put emotions to one side in order to respond to those around us, to negotiate the complexities that life presents or to accomplish the tasks that often dominate our time becomes a frequent reality. When coupled with being consumed by the pain that losing a child presents, the feelings can be overwhelming and moments of tranquillity few.”

The garden of tranquillity at Demelza's Kent hospice.
At Demelza’s Kent hospice we’re fortunate to be able to offer children, parents, staff and volunteers alike, access to the Garden of Tranquillity.

Speaking about a family event she once hosted, Jo says: “One parent had the opportunity to talk in the garden, walking with a volunteer [from the Bereavement Team] whilst sharing their experience and how they were feeling before spending time alone with her own thoughts and choosing to read a story to her child from one of the peaceful gazebos. After taking in the space, the parent joined us again expressing thanks for treating her with such gentleness and allowing her the time to ‘just be’. ‘Just being’ is such a precious event that is often not afforded to us, but one which is needed in order to begin to make sense of the world around us.”

The benches within the garden offer up a moment to breathe and pause. To ‘just be’, to reflect or talk to someone.

CALM X After Life

Suicide prevention charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) teamed up with Netflix for the launch of the new season. Together they have installed 25 benches across the UK, including one in Victoria Park, Ashford, Kent.

CALM has said: “We know benches are a place where you can reflect, talk to someone, sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and get things off your chest. So we’ve worked with Netflix to put benches in parks across the country – inscribed with that crucial line from the show, ‘Hope is everything’ – to help people have those conversations and to show it’s normal to have those feelings.”

Staying connected

If you are receiving care from Demelza and would like to speak to someone about bereavement support, you can get in touch with us at familysupportdepartment@demelza.org.uk or by calling 01795 845280 (Monday to Friday, 10 am – 4 pm).

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