The Client's Voice
This is a personal account of loss and of the experience of being supported by a CBCS volunteer. The client who generously wrote this for us, describes herself as 50 and working in a professional capacity. When she sent it to us, she commented that she wanted to do this for CBCS
"... because of the benefit I have felt..... however, I didn't realise that it would be quite so difficult /emotional..... what I’ve written barely touches the many aspects of counselling that have helped me."
We have included this because it captures with great clarity both the individual experience of loss and the difference skilled intervention can make.
"When mum died, I felt that I had been preparing myself for some time. She had become rather frail and although I had "rehearsed" with my grownup children that "Gran wouldn't live forever" I was overwhelmed by the desperate grief that seemed to consume me. I suppose it had been sudden. Mum had a fall, needed an operation to set a bone but sadly passed away within 36 hours of the surgery. I was grateful that until then, she had been independent, enjoying living alone in her "little palace". But I was devastated.
"Our family worked together through those early days - we are very close. Initially, the many arrangements kept me busy. But after that, I seemed to sink further into a depth of despair that was quite irrational. Sensing that I was becoming affected by depression, I visited my GP and he suggested that I contact CRUSE (CBCS)
"My dad had died very suddenly of a heart attack when I was 16 years old. At the time, my mum, brother and I didn't cope very well at all, but we survived. I can't begin to tell you how that affected me, because I now realise that I "blocked" much of the pain, bitterness and regret. So although I had experienced bereavement once before in my lifetime, it hadn't prepared me for this loss, in my adulthood - quite the opposite. All the past feelings resurfaced, memories flooded back mixed with new grief and I was lost. I felt that I couldn't go through all that again. Although I hold a position of considerable responsibility at work and deal with the strain and stress of that well, this was enormous by comparison. I felt that no one could help me, not even my darling husband who has shared my life since I was 14 years old.
"I made the telephone call and a kindly voice took my details, advising that I would be contacted when a counsellor became available.
"I didn't have long to wait. I chose to meet in the CBCS office, a small informal room with comfortable "homely" furnishings. Over the weeks this was to become a special, private place where I spoke aloud the many thoughts that pass fleetingly through the mind. I came to appreciate that the power of spoken language cannot be overstated. Whilst a thought can meander and leap in mere seconds, or if painful be dismissed or even ignored, articulation slows this process down, makes it more deliberate. "M" my counsellor told me from the beginning that I would be the one doing "the work" and that she would listen, perhaps help me to reflect. Although I am a very private person I gave her total trust regarding discretion; I didn't waste time assessing whether or not she merited my trust. I simply believed that CBCS would be a confidential agency. I needed help and felt that I had nothing to lose.
"Meetings were approximately four-weekly. I poured out my childhood, my adolescence and my adult relationships, particularly with my mum. I cried so many tears, I was exhausted after each session, but when I was in that little room, I didn't have to be concerned about how my tears would hurt those who cared about me, or if my family would worry about my well-being. I "talked for Britain", thinking aloud the fear, anguish, anger, injustice, desperate sadness and overwhelming loss. It amazed me to acknowledge that, while I have lived my life purposefully avoiding regret and always doing now what I might regret if destiny dealt an unexpected hand, I could still feel so lost and alone. Mum and I had been close, but the pain of losing dad had never been resolved. I have no regrets and have never felt that I should have done more - indeed I am grateful to have shared so many special times. However, the loss of my father all those years before caught up with me and I needed to deal with the loss of both parents if I was ever to feel whole again.
"Before every visit I would reflect "how DO I feel this week?" or "what has been most difficult for me this month?" This was my "homework" and meant that I really focussed on dealing with my emotions rather than avoiding grief and loss as I had done previously. "M" helped me through those months, in safe, relaxed surroundings at my own pace, offering just the occasional comment that helped me to understand what I was desperately trying to articulate, or where I was on this journey.
"I have finally reconciled the loss of both parents. My grief and tears feel "normal" now and I can cope with that, most days. Deciding when to curtail visits was very difficult - what if I needed to speak to "M"? I understand that I can always" refer" back again if needed.
"I can never explain how much CBCS counselling has meant to me. I am a very practical, level-headed person who generally copes well. In my family, I can be depended upon to be strong, to guide and nurture. But for a time last year, the real me was in danger of being lost for good. Who would have thought that some hours spent in the company of a relative stranger, could make such a difference? Their skills are subtle, but very effective. God bless you all."