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Understanding Loss and Grief in South Asian Communities

7 July 2023

Upjeet Kaur Sidhu, our Community Development and Inclusion Officer, is always out and about in local communities spreading awareness of Birmingham Hospice.

Upjeet engages with a variety of community groups, with particular focus on the South Asian community within Birmingham, to discover the barriers they face when accessing hospice care and to learn what good end of life care looks like for them. Alongside this, Upjeet delivers Bereavement Awareness Training to various community groups to increase confidence when supporting someone in grief.

Recently, she was invited to deliver a workshop at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick on Understanding Loss and Grief . This was part of the Mental Health & Wellbeing event organised by a Sikh mental health charity called Sikh Forgiveness.

Below, Upjeet shares more about the workshop and the insightful discussions that took place.

The workshop at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick was a great event to showcase the work of the hospice and build on our relationships in the South Asian community.

I planned two parts for the workshop. The first part was from our Bereavement Awareness Training in which I covered theories on grief, different ways to support someone who is grieving and the importance of taking care of yourself when supporting others. The second part of the workshop was used as an open discussion to learn what bereavement support exists within the Sikh community already and what more would they like to see in terms of support when going through grief.

The workshop received positive feedback in which attendees commented they felt understood and felt more equipped in supporting bereaved loved ones. Attendees felt grateful to see a workshop like this take place within the Gurdwara and requests were made for it to be delivered at other Gurdwaras across Birmingham as they saw this as something that was needed within the community.

Attendees shared many personal experiences, and it was heart-warming to see how comfortable and safe everyone felt to share their personal stories and views.  

Everyone in the workshop was enthusiastic when giving suggestions on what can be done at the Gurdwara to improve the support available for bereaved individuals and there was a real sense of optimism for the Gurdwara being a safe space for them to explore ideas and try different things to engage with all types of community members.

One gentleman attended with his wife whose mother died three years ago. He expressed his gratitude for the workshop and felt it was reassuring for him to learn that it was okay for him to not know what to do or say but be led by his wife and what she needed. He said the workshop helped him feel confident in supporting his wife. His wife said the session was great, and it was nice for her to meet like-minded people who can understand her grief.

The workshop proved to be a huge learning success for the hospice as we received detailed feedback on what the community would like to see within their community spaces, for example a Bereavement Hub which included activities for different age groups. I have shared this with the team at the Gurdwara and I feel great pride in working together to help facilitate bereavement support within the community.

Some feedback from two people who attended:

“Sometimes the main grievers end up comforting others so people should be conscious when supporting them – I felt this was reflected in the workshop and I’m glad it was.”

“It was good to see this workshop at the Gurdwara.”

It is always a lovely experience to connect with individuals as I feel they really are the heart of what makes a community. As a Community Development & Inclusion Officer, I feel this type of engagement with a community is exactly what my role is about.  

Our Community Development Team is happy to come and meet your community groups to help facilitate conversations around end of life care and bereavement support – get in touch!