Hello! I’ve been silent for 6 weeks and now I’m returning with a piece of writing about death. 😀 I wrote this as part of my journalism course; we’ve paired up with Kicking the Bucket, a festival due to be held in Oxfordshire later this year, all about death, living and dying. This post is going to be published on their blog soon, too! I hope it gives you an insight into what support is available if and when you need it.
Lovely sewing blog followers: I am constantly sewing, and don’t have a lot of time to read & write… I will really try to share something with you ASAP!! Time has flown! 🙂
Cruse Bereavement Care is a charity that supports you after the death of a loved one, and helps you deal with grief. It offers support in a variety of ways: telephone, email, face-to-face, and group support. There is also specialist support available for children and young people who have been bereaved. All support is confidential and free.
Cruse is almost entirely run by volunteers – and my mum, Rachel Clarkson, is one of them. I caught up with her to share what she does, and why she does it.
Since her friend died in 2008 and left behind two young children, Mum’s been a keen supporter of the charity that helped the bereft children – Winston’s Wish. In 2014 she wanted to support the charity further than her frequent donations; but as she has no qualifications or experience in working with children, she looked into working with bereaved adults. This is when she discovered Cruse. She said she was “accepted on the intense 3 month course of weekends and extensive homework – and passed with an accreditation.” Since her redundancy in October 2015, she sees two clients a week who have been recently bereaved.
Speaking more on the training that she received, she said: “The course investigated different ways that death can occur – but we also analysed our thoughts and feelings and reactions to the different ways of death during our role play, which was very emotionally draining. I understood a lot more about myself and life occurrences that I’ve been through. And although we were learning, on occasions it felt therapeutic at the same time.”
So, what does being a bereavement volunteer entail? Mum currently sees bereaved adults face-to-face (although she’s going on a training course in May to become a telephone supervisor, which she’s sure will bring new clients due to the demand for telephone bereavement support). Each client is entitled to six face-to face sessions of 50 minutes each (however these can be extended if her supervisor agrees). She says: “The main aim of our session is to allow the client, with encouragement, to talk about their bereavement and the feelings they have because of it. The initial session tends to be an outpouring of pent-up emotion. The following sessions take on a usual structure of seeing how their week has been and from that, usually delving deeper into something that has happened that week, or going back to talking about the bereavement in general, and taking the lead from the client.”
Cruse bereavement volunteers see people from six weeks after the bereavement, to several years from it. When I asked Mum why she thought this type of support is so useful, she said: “There are many people that feel that they are a burden to their family and friends by wanting to talk about the deceased person over and over again.” She mentioned that they are often unable to express themselves fully to somebody close to them – but they find talking to a ‘stranger’ easier, knowing that everything is said in confidence, so they are able to truly express themselves. This in itself is good therapy.
I think it must take a lot to talk about very painful subjects yet remain professional. But Mum maintains that the pride she gets from seeing her clients gain in confidence is worth the drain of emotion. She said; “I realised that the time that I give them to talk openly and honestly is invaluable to most clients. I feel humbled that a couple of hours a week of my time is worth so much to people. I would not have paid for the necessary training if I didn’t enjoy helping my clients.”
So if you think you might need some help dealing with your grief, or you’re interested in helping others deal with their grief, I’m sure Cruse would be pleased to hear from you.