Living Well with Loss In my early twenties, I worked in a Hospice for the terminally ill. I saw that the patients received a very high standard of care. And the relatives? To my shame, our focus was so fixed on the dying that we did very little for the living. Thankfully we have learned a lot since that time. In my own life I experienced loss at an early age and have had a life-long commitment to working with and helping the bereaved. For decades I have spoken on Grief and Loss in Hospitals, Hospices, Churches and Community Centres all over the country. Were all the people who turned up to the lectures bereaved? No, but Loss is wider than the loss of a loved one. Every significant change in our lives involves some degree of loss and letting go. Losing your job, your home, your health, or a faculty like sight or hearing are losses. Divorce and separation can be painful experiences of loss and much more needs to be done to support adults and children through that process. In recent times, we suffered a haemorrhage of young people in search of employment and opportunity elsewhere. Emigration can be a major loss for those who leave and those who stay. There are no ‘small’ losses; especially when a death is involved. Some lives are long and some are heartbreakingly short, but all loving relationships are life-long. I have been privileged to work with A Little Lifetime Foundation, S.O.F.T., and other organisations who are dedicated to helping parents grieve well. I have also had the privilege of working with The Samaritans, Aware, Headway, Rise, the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Bethany, Cura, The Merchant’s Quay Trust, The Irish Heart Foundation and many other organisations to develop the personal and professional skills of their service providers. Professional caregivers also love and lose. How their own losses are supported during their training and professional lives will enhance or detract from the quality of the care they provide. It is essential that professional caregivers are helped to grieve well so that they can live well and love fully. It will also enable them to develop compassion which should be at the heart of all service. The development of increased availability and access to bereavement supports will continue to be one of my priorities if elected to Seanad Eireann.