Alder Hey Children's Hospital

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Alder Centre - Bereavement Care Services

alder_centre_webThe Alder Centre is a unique, national centre of excellence providing ‘care and education for anyone affected by the death of a child’.

Established in 1989 by a small group of health care professionals in partnership with bereaved parents, The Alder Centre is opposite the Alder Road entrance to the hospital, next to Ronald McDonald House and provides numerous services to bereaved families:

  • Bereavement Care Service
  • Counselling – one to one, couple or family
  • Support Groups for those affected by the loss of a child
  • Volunteer Befriending, offered by bereaved parents
  • The Child Death Helpline, staffed by volunteers and run in conjunction with Great Ormond Street Hospital
  • Therapeutic Family Breaks

The loss of your child is possibly one of the worst things that can happen to you. No-one will be able to tell you exactly how it feels, as everyone acts and feels differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The experience of grief involves a range of feelings of numbness, disbelief, anger, guilt, sadness, emptiness, relief and denial. Many feelings may be so mixed up that you wonder if you are going mad or will ever be able to enjoy life again. This is a perfectly normal reaction to the range of emotions involved..

Contact us

Please contact the Alder Centre on: 0151 252 5391 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday or between 9am and 4.30pm on Fridays.

Your comments and experiences

  • Hi, The Candle Service on the 11th was a disappointment this year.Been attending for 23 yrs since we lost Stacey and Chloe and like to hear there names read out every year , we got the impression it was just rushed through to save time reading out the names, very saddened to see this happen, thanks Glenda

    • Dear Glenda,

      I am so sorry that you were disappointed with changes introduced at our annual Candle Service. For many years it has been part of the Service to read out the names of the children we have lost and I fully appreciate that this has been very meaningful for many families over the years, and particularly for you to hear Stacey and Chloe’s name. However in recent years both the Alder Centre and the Cathedral have received feedback from families that this part of the Service was too long and that the volume of names was becoming overwhelming. For some families this meant that the Service was no longer as comforting or as hope filled as it had been previously and without it changing, they would feel unable to attend.

      A group of bereaved parent volunteers met over a period of 6 months to plan the Candle Service and faced the difficult task of trying to balance the needs of all of our bereaved families. This group had introduced the screening of children’s names at our 2013 Candle Service and as this was very well received, decided to continue this format in 2014. However, they also recognised the importance of having a child’s name stated aloud, and we included as part of the Service ‘the Naming’, where families were invited to say out loud the name of the child they were there to remember. Each family was also given an individual candle to light in memory of their child. Details of these proposed changes were included in the letters sent out to families advertising the Candle Service so that as many people as possible were prepared in advance for the change .

      By including these three acts of memorial, the parent planning group aimed to meet the needs of as many families as possible and still ensure that the Service maintained its personal meaning to each individual family. The screening of the names seemed to be particularly powerful this year, with many families congregating at the altar of candles beneath the screen to take photographs of their child’s name at the end of the Service. Feedback on the night and since has been positive and I have received comments that the Service proved to be more uplifting this year than last. Again I accept that this change would not have been easy for all, particularly when you have attended the Service for many years and grown used to a certain format. I will of course pass on your views to the planning group when they meet in the New Year to review the Service and again we will need to try and consider all of the feedback we receive before planning the Service for 2015.

      Yours sincerely
      Shelagh Hatton

  • We lost our little treasure, Michael, aged 7 on 7th August 2003 to cancer and the Alder Centre counsellors were instrumental in us coming to an understanding as to how two parents can grieve in totally different ways. The counselling also included our eldest son Andrew, who was 10 at the time. It gave him a chance to say how he felt about losing his brother. I especially found the experience very helpful, and now am a volunteer on the helpline, where I feel that I can pass on my experience to newly bereaved parents and help them to understand what it is like to travel on the journey of a bereaved parent.

  • I had a baby Olly on 7/8/13 at Manchester and transferred to Alder hey. Olly had hypo-plastic left heart syndrome the staff were brilliant with him in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit but because Olly’s condition was severe we got transferred to Newcastle Freeman hospital as olly underwent his heart surgery he came back the ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) sadly olly lost his fight on the 04/09/13 we can’t thank all the nurses doctors everyone enough for what they did for us and Olly

  • My baby girl demi Marie died in alder hey March 1st 2011 she was taken ill with h1n1 virus and was on a ventilater for about 2 months before we found she had a stroke and bleed on the brain while sedated and then we found she was fighting a rare form of cancer she fought all her life fitted with a micky button she was an inspiration to us all

  • I had a 10 day old grandaughter die at alderhey recently and the support my daughter has had from the staff at the bereavement centre has been really good the staff do an amazing job in extremely heartbreaking circumstances

  • i had a 3 week old baby in this hospital and sadly he died but the staff at alder hey supported me and my partner through this the bereavement centre was amazing the staff was so supportting defitnitly the best hospital to use the staff are so nice

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