Mary Potter Hospice Bereavement Café

March 27th, 2024

The Mary Potter Hospice Bereavement Café is run with the generous support of financial advice provider AdviceFirst whose kind donation ensures the initiative continues to exist and grow. Mary Potter Hospice acknowledges and thanks AdviceFirst for understanding the need for the Bereavement Café and contributing towards the cost.

This may be the first time you’ve heard that Mary Potter Hospice has a bereavement café to support people after a loved one has died. What on earth is a bereavement café you may well ask?

It is a group of people who, having experienced the death of a loved one, meet to chat over coffee and find support in the collective empathy and wisdom of others in the group who genuinely understand what it is to face the uncharted waters of grief.  

As the two facilitators of the group, we can tell you that the monthly café is an informal get-together where people chat about whatever topics they feel comfortable with. Exactly the kind of conversation you’ll hear and be part of in any café in Wellington. Everyone can say as much or as little as they like about their loved one who died. People who come to the bereavement café often say it was a relief to talk with other people who truly get what being bereaved is like. 

You may be wondering about why people would choose to come along to the café and what they get from it. To answer that question, here are the words of three people in the group who kindly agreed to share their experiences of the bereavement café.

“After losing my life partner in April last year, I decided to join the group because I thought having the support of others going through the same experience as me was worth a go.  It’s really hard to know what you need when faced with the first significant loss in your life. You don’t know what will help and there’s no blueprint. 

Over the months I’ve been going, I’ve found our coffee mornings are a place to share our lives a little, to tell the stories of our loved ones (if we want), to recommend helpful books or podcasts, or simply acknowledge the new challenges that come with navigating a new life and facing new realities. Often on your own.

The volunteers are great. Without any fuss, they make sure everyone gets the chance to connect.  They too have experienced loss some years ago and their openness and honesty about how it is for them now is insightful. 

The group is relaxed, our meetings are often chatty, there’s always laughter and occasionally a tear. But that’s mainly because this is a place where it feels okay to talk about your loved one. Sometimes friends and family struggle to know what to do or say, or worry about triggering your grief. Yet for many of us, talking about who we’ve lost, is a great comfort. This is a place where it feels safe to talk about them. 

Everyone has to figure out what feels right for them.  But for me, being able to talk and feel acceptance from others, means I feel less alone at this difficult time in my life”.  


“I lost my wife about two years ago and when she passed away, at first I found myself looking for people that were walking the same path as myself. I was having counselling at Mary Potter Hospice and my counsellor told me about the group.

Right from the very first day I was welcomed and supported by everyone who was there and how I could relate to everyone. Even today when I see new people coming through, I know how they are feeling; I understand the loneliness, the emotional rollercoaster that you have been placed in and the life that you are left with, not really the one you want but for whatever reason you keep walking down that path one foot after the other.

Then once a month you get to come along and talk about how you’re doing, your problems or issues, how your kids are doing; are they ok too, or just someone to talk to who has been through it.

For me this group of people is priceless. Thanks so much for being there”.


“With trepidation I set out to attend my first bereavement cafe. Clyde had been dead for a few months and weekends were lonely and hard. Coffee and company sounded okay. So when I was invited to attend I thought I would give it a go. 

What I found was two lovely ladies Moira and Annie who were welcoming and seemed delighted that I was there. They expected nothing except conversation and they’re skilled at including everyone. 

Many topics are discussed, opinions shared, questions asked and we even have a laugh. 

There is no expectation that you will talk about your grief journey but if you want to you are guaranteed understanding listeners.

Bereavement Cafe is an outing, a place to talk to people who have been through similar experiences. People who are adjusting to a different life who encounter problems and roadblocks along the way. 

So we share, listen, drink coffee and go away knowing we are not alone”. 


Bereavement Café Hosts:

The group is facilitated by two skilled volunteers who have walked their own grief journey.

“I’m Moira, although the majority of my working life was as a mediator, it was the experience of an informal group like this after being widowed young that led me to recognise and value the benefits of people who “get it” meeting up.

Now retired from paid work, my time is enjoyably my own to delight in family, friends, travel, efforts at fitness, and a recent return to very rusty handcraft skills!”

“My name is Annie. I am a Registered Nurse nearing retirement and currently working in Primary Health part time. I very much enjoy my community connection through volunteering and have been doing this in various guises for most of my adult life.

As with everyone attending, I have experience with grief, personal and professional. I look forward to welcoming all those who would like to join us to share, listen or simply for companionship on a Sunday morning”.

If you, or someone you know, is bereaved and might like to come along, please know you’ll be welcome. If you’d feel encouraged by first having a phone call with Annie and Moira, please email Fleur, Counsellor and Psychotherapist at Mary Potter Hospice, giving your phone number and requesting a call. Fleur will pass on your name and number to Annie or Moira, who will then text you asking for a convenient time to call.

Mary Potter Hospice’s Bereavement Café is generously supported by AdviceFirst.