Support Groups: sharing experiences helps

Support Groups: sharing experiences helps

The whole point of Diealog Groups is to bring together people who have experienced things about death and dying we want to talk about. We create a safe space for peer support where people can speak openly and honestly, and, if we want, get advice from others in a similar position and hear how we cope. This is different to individual support, which can be very helpful but doesn’t always allow for hearing from and sharing with others.

Our feelings are normal: Diealog Groups aim to let people know that our experiences, as varied and sometimes as painful and as they are, are a normal part of all our journeys towards death. For example, most of us have fears and apprehensions about dying, and simply knowing that that’s normal can be a relief. Normalising our experiences with others can be one of the most helpful things when we feel frightened or alone.

There’s no set time-limit
Most well-known end-of-life models are medical ones (‘palliative medicine’), which tend to focus on our last year of life in a semi-linear fashion. We have learned that this is not the way we actually experience our last stage of life and actual dying. Many of us want to consider our future dying while we are completely well. Then, when we have a life-limiting illness we are also be looking at how to live as well as possible right to the very end. Our human experience is a roller-coaster in which we can be up and down at unpredictable points in time, whether that be 6 months, 2 years, or 5 years down the line with a serious illness. We would say that, young or old, an awareness of death is always with us, and that it just changes shape over time. We can choose to ignore it but it is not something that goes away.

Continuous and reliable support
Our Diealog Groups are there to support us wherever we are on our life journey. The continuity of the monthly group meetings provide us with a safe place where we know we can get support at any point we need it, sure in the knowledge that the space will always be there.

Led by members
Our groups don’t have an agenda; the sessions are led by the people who come along and what they feel they need to talk about on the day. We have learned that this is much more helpful than imposing an agenda. Sometimes a Peer mentoring person will attend to help a new group get started, but we have also learned that in a few sessions and months people quickly learn the confidentiality ground-rules and skills to co-facilitate the group so that we always get to talk about and share the things we want and need to.

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