Group helps bereaved stand together

February 3, 2024 BY

In it together: Roz, James, and Jo (middle three from left) have found comfort spending time with each other since their partners passed away. With Bendigo Health Social Workers Megan Rohde (far left) and Marie McNamara (far right). Photo: SOPHIE FOUNÉ

FAMILY of loved ones who have passed away have found community with each other through a walking group facilitated by Bendigo Health.

The group meet at Peppergreen Farm each Wednesday morning for a stroll around Lake Weeroona and share a hot drink afterward.

Those who have had a family member pass away in the hospital’s palliative care units can join the walkers.

Social worker, Megan Rohde, said she has been involved with the group for eight years.

“It’s a great time opportunity for bereaved to spend time with other people who understand and support them because they have a similar lived experience,” she said.

“I think we all know the benefits of being outside, walking, and connections with others is really good for our mental health.

“Although the social work team facilitate the group and we are there to provide support and guidance to people in the group, it’s a peer model that works really well.

“The group often develops really good friendships and supports over the time that they’re together that really helps them through the first 12 months of their grief.”

Roz, Jo, and James all recently had their partners pass away. Roz said spending time with the other walkers was a “highlight” of her week.

“You just feel really alone at times,” said Roz.

“I was back at work and people think you’re functioning, but obviously there’s a big gaping hole.

“Sometimes when we turn up we’re in tears and can hardly walk, and then next time there’s new people arriving and we’re the ones going up and giving them hugs.

“Just to talk with the others, it’s incredible the support you feel from it.”

James said he was married for 50 years and is not used to living by himself.

He said he has found it helpful to “mix with other people.”

“I feel that because we’re all in the same situation, you can ask questions that you might have otherwise felt a bit uneasy about.”

Jo said she met someone years ago who had previously been in the group and was still friends with people she had walked with.

“And look at what we’ve formed in a couple of weeks,” she said.