Nancy’s Story “You want to help others as you have been helped”
“When you have a life changing incident you want to help others as you have been helped.
“I’m a Bereavement Volunteer with Cruse Bereavement Support. I had a bereavement eight years ago. At the time, East Surrey Macmillan Centre was being built. I got in touch with the local area branch and did lots of fundraising, and then carried on volunteering for them as part of their volunteer branch. But during the pandemic, I started looking at other volunteer options. I wanted something related to bereavement and found this role with Cruse.
“I started training in September 2020. Volunteer training takes around four months and I got my first client in January 2021. The support I give is over the phone, which works around working from home and my family and other commitments. I am assigned clients and we mutually agree a time when we can chat. Each client has between four and six sessions of up to 50 minutes but you don’t have to talk for 50 minutes if it’s too much.
“I speak to my supervisor any time I have a query or worry. You have to have supervision. You could have a really traumatic call and need to speak to someone confidentially. We also have monthly supervisions as a group and talk about any grief subject that has come up. More recently, we have talked about how losing someone to Covid in the pandemic has been a different type of trauma to a few years ago. We talk about how we can help clients through these areas.
“As we don’t know them or their family, they can say anything. Most of the things people say, most of what they’re going through, it’s about normalising it for them and reassuring them that what they’re saying is a natural part of grief. And helping them to accept that it’s okay to turn on that tap.
“It’s very hard to go home and grieve with your nearest and dearest. With the support Cruse gives, no one is going to say “I’ve heard all this before.” There’s no time limit. I remember when I had my bereavement, people expected me to be over it but there’s no expiry date on grief. There can be lots of times in the calendar when people react quite strongly, like birthdays and Christmases, or the anniversary of the passing. I had a really amazing grief counsellor, organised through my work, and they said to me, “It’s not up to other people how long is enough.”
“When you’re grieving, you’re still the same person, but also changed because grief is added into your life. I found the people who helped are people who’ve had a similar grief. As a Cruse volunteer, life experience is key. You have to put yourself in their shoes. I imagine how I felt at my lowest. I feel like I have become more patient. You don’t know other people’s circumstances.”