Our journey

Jeremiah’s Journey was born in 1996 out of keen recognition by a small group of NHS professionals that there was no dedicated service in Plymouth to support bereaved children.

Back then, little was known about how best to help young people faced with experiencing the death of a parent. Such a great loss was difficult to comprehend. Scientific research suggested that younger people experiencing the death of a parent were at risk of developing a range of problems in later life. The four co-founders strongly believed that offering support before any serious problems might develop was a much better way forward than intervening far too late. One of our co-founders, Prof. Jacqui Stedmon, remains pivotal to our service today and believes that children may want to build continuing bonds to their special person who has died.

Enter Jeremiah Bear! Originally Jeremiah was a story character whose family had experienced major loss. Jeremiah wanted to understand what bereavement meant to him and, at the same time, what sense his children made of their mother’s death. It was a story about how to feel the pain that the aftermath of bereavement can bring and then to develop some shared meaning that makes sense. The original story has been updated but is still used as intended to help children’s understanding of why they feel as they do after the death of a loved one.

Today, Jeremiah is out and about sharing his grief journey. He wants to show you just how much he cares so please say hello!

Over the years we have realised that many bereaved children show great resilience and go on to flourish. Today, we want to develop partnerships with other organisations that give young people a chance. We recognise that the aftermath of a bereavement can also involve meeting new friends, singing, dancing, sport, cooking, creating green spaces and new artificial worlds. Some people feel better when the person who has died continues to be part of their lives and others may have reasons to forget. Jeremiah’s Journey shall always be here for your future.

Our co-founders, Professor Jacqui Stedmon, Dr Sheila Cassidy, Diana Maynard and Ann Tucker based some of the ideas on the work of Winston’s Wish. Over the years with the help from our families we have been able to build on this stable foundation. Many of their original ideas and ways of working are still very much part of what we do today.

Another strong influence has been from the ‘Continuing Bonds’ theory (Klass, Silverman and Nickman, 1996) which argues that it is important to maintain a connection or bond with the person who has died. We are continually incorporating new ideas from bereavement literature as well as learning from other areas.