Grappling with bereavement and sadness: Dorothy's story

September 2022

Dorothy felt isolated and extremely down after two close bereavements in her family. But she has found friends and understanding by attending our over-65s support groups in Bognor and taking part in our activities. Here she shares her story

Life felt very empty somehow. My husband had died a few years previously. I had tried to build a new life for myself and had joined in some activities with Age UK West Sussex Brighton & Hove. But I felt very lonely and sometimes depressed, especially at weekends.

One day I was at the Laburnum Centre in Bognor and I saw a leaflet from West Sussex Mind with the word ‘loneliness’ on it. It really spoke to me. So I enquired with the manager of the Communities in Mind service, and she asked me to come along for an interview.

After that, I started going along to the group meetings on Tuesday afternoons and to the art group once a month. I’ve done keep fit sessions, bingo, quizzes and other activities with West Sussex Mind. I’ve really enjoyed these afternoons. I’ve made friends and it has brought me happiness. It has helped to fill the gap and the emptiness that I felt.

I first got in touch with West Sussex Mind in September 2019 before the COVID pandemic hit. But even during the COVID lockdowns, West Sussex Mind did its best to keep the group sessions going. As soon as restrictions allowed, they ran face-to-face groups again with six people in the room socially distanced. And throughout the whole period, they sent a monthly newsletter to us with puzzles, colouring and other activities.

I’ve really enjoyed my afternoons at West Sussex Mind. I’ve made friends and it has brought me happiness. It has helped to fill the gap and the emptiness that I felt... It’s a lifeline for me, as I’m with people who really understand


I love the monthly art group on Fridays. I have always enjoyed art, but never had much of an opportunity to do it in my later life. I have found that it comes back to me easily. And I enjoy learning more about art and exploring different subjects within it. It’s very interesting and the teachers go to a lot of trouble to make it engaging for us. They are really amazing and very kind. I can’t speak highly enough of them.

I also go to the fortnightly get togethers on Tuesdays. Jo and Julia, who run Communities in Mind, and the volunteers who work with them, are so understanding and so kind – I have always felt that I am among friends at West Sussex Mind, who really understand me.

And I really needed their help, particularly last November when my younger son died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. It was a huge shock and I hadn’t seen him for a while when he died. Since then, I’ve almost felt that I am living with sadness all the time.

I’ve also had a lot of worry with my oldest son, who seemed to have a personality change at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Finally he had an MRI scan and it turned out that he was suffering from a neurological condition caused by the premature loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain. Again during this period of intense worry, West Sussex Mind was a big support to me.

At West Sussex Mind, I feel that I am among friends who understand my hurt. I feel sadness and worry for my oldest son on an ongoing basis and that is difficult. But on Tuesday afternoons at the Laburnum Centre, my worries slip away. It’s a lifeline for me, as I’m with people who really understand.

Getting support with West Sussex Mind has really helped me – it has brightened me up, broadened my horizons and made a real difference to my life. It can be hard to reach out for support, but it is so worth doing. It really can make a world of difference to how you feel.