Bereavement service launched to help NI farm families

A new loss and bereavement service, Life Beyond, has been launched specifically for farm families in Northern Ireland.

Rural Support has joined forces with Embrace FARM, a farm accident support charity in the Republic of Ireland, to launch the new programme.

The service will provide practical and emotional support for northern farm families experiencing bereavement, through whatever circumstances, and those who have survived a farm accident.

Support with all aspects of bereavement

Life Beyond will offer farm business, financial and technical mentoring support, alongside emotional health, and bereavement counselling, including trauma support, specifically tailored to what each family needs.

It will also work with farming families where there is a terminal diagnosis to help them plan and give them space to spend with their loved ones.

Victoria Ross speaking at the Life Beyond launch

This support will operate alongside peer-to-peer group activities tailored for specific groups: for example, widows/widowers, parents, siblings, family members, farm accident survivors and their families, and there is also access to digital resources online through the Northern Ireland Farm Support Hub, which is run in partnership with HSENI.

The service will hold an annual celebration gathering to acknowledge the contributions made by loved ones who have passed away to the land, our lives, and the agricultural community. The inaugural gathering will take place on October 24, in the Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown at 1:30p.m.

Norma Rohan, general manager and founder of Embrace FARM, said: “Our experience of working with families in the Republic of Ireland who have been affected by the death of a loved one through farm accident has shown us that these types of services are invaluable in helping people to move through the trauma.

We have also found that peer-to-peer support groups have been particularly useful for building networks and meeting new friends who understand the complexities of experiencing loss in this way.

“They are also helpful for those who have survived a farming accident and their families as they get used to a very new and often challenging life beyond the initial recovery.

“We are confident that this approach combined with financial and business mentoring and bereavement counselling support through Rural Support will really help families to address the key problems and help them to move forward.”

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots speaking at the Life Beyond launch

Speaking at the launch, Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: “Bereavement is something that many families go through and can be made worse because of complications relating to the farm business and sometimes problems relating to succession.

“This programme will take people through that experience both on the practical and business side as well as on the emotional side and provide the support they need, when they need it and for whatever length of time, it is needed for. This can only strengthen the health and wellbeing of the farm family and alongside that, help the farm business to continue.”

Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann speaking at the Life Beyond launch

Northern Ireland Minister of Health, Robin Swann added: “Farmers and farming families tend to ‘just get on with it’ when they are faced with tragedy.

“owever, supporting rural families through bereavement and loss is vitally important in helping them to come through their suffering and move forward.”

How to contact Life Beyond

If you or someone you know would benefit from the Life Beyond Programme or from speaking to a Rural Support team member, the confidential support line is available from 9:00a.m-9:00p.m, Monday to Friday (voicemail and options available at all other times). The freephone number is 0800-138-1678.

The services are provided free of charge to the service users and are funded through a combination of donations and government funding.