Two books launched to help the grieving at hospice council's inaugural conference on grief

The first book, Caring For Yourself And Others After A Death, promotes self help and mutual help, and the second book, When A Death Occurs - A Guide To Practical Matters, covers matters regarding the key areas of funeral planning and estate management. PHOTO: INAUGRAL GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT CONFERENCE 2018

SINGAPORE - Two books that aim to help those who have lost a loved one were launched on Wednesday (Oct 31) at the Singapore Hospice Council's (SHC) inaugural Grief and Bereavement Conference.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, who launched the books, said it was important to improve understanding about grief, and to provide knowledge on how best to support grieving individuals.

"Relatives, friends, colleagues, classmates and faith groups play an important role in supporting the bereaved," she said.

The books were published by the SHC in partnership with the Ang Chin Moh Foundation and Temasek Foundation Cares.

The first book, titled Caring For Yourself And Others After A Death, promotes self help and mutual help, and contains information and suggestions for Singaporeans on how to care for themselves and how to support others when a death occurs.

"Whether you are a concerned neighbour, a teacher, or a colleague, the book offers tips appropriate to your role and context when you are called upon to support a bereaved member of your community," Dr Khor said.

The second book, When A Death Occurs - A Guide To Practical Matters, is a collaboration between SHC and law students from the National University of Singapore, and covers matters regarding the key areas of funeral planning and estate management.

The books are available in electronic form at www.singaporehospice.org.sg

Physical copies of the books are also on display at the SHC conference, which is held over two days at the Furama Riverfront Hotel and slated to have over 300 participants and and 40 invited guest speakers.

"Grief is a reminder of what and who we have loved. It is a shared human experience that escapes no one," said Dr Angel Lee, chairman of SHC.

"The aim of the conference is to work collectively towards a more healthy response and meaningful support of those who are grieving that less may suffer the ravages of grief," she added.

The conference will cover topics from the use of art therapy for grieving young people, creating groups for grief support, and the sharing of local and regional experiences in building a community of support for the bereaved.

It also provides a platform for health and social care practitioners, service providers of death-related services, academics, educators and volunteers to share their knowledge, experiences and solutions.

Madam Stephanie Phan, whose daughter Gillian Chen, 20, died in March this year, appreciated the event. Snapshots of her daughter's artwork, with titles such as "Vacant Stores", "Stored Letters" and "Fallen Hair" are on display at an exhibition at the conference.

"The conference allows me to reach out to other members in the community who are going through the same thing and suffering from grief in their own ways," she said.

"We would like to share our stories and gain strength from the community," added Madam Phan, who is in her 50s and works in marketing,

According to Ministry of Health (MOH) data, there were nearly 21,000 deaths in Singapore last year. This is set to increase steadily in tandem with Singapore's ageing population, as one in four Singaporeans is expected to be aged 65 or above come 2030.

There have been efforts to strengthen support for caregivers, including the plans announced last week by the MOH to review and strengthen support for caregivers to the elderly.

Programmes to enhance palliative care and make it more accessible and affordable have also been rolled out, to provide Singaporeans with more options for end-of-life care.

The MOH is working on the expansion of day hospice capacities and home palliative care services, to have at least 6,000 places per year by 2020.

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