Gemma is 28 and from Bognor Regis. On the 29 September 2017, Gemma’s mother, Helen died at the age of 51 after being in hospital with kidney disease and vascular problems. After the death of her mum, Gemma contacted her local Cruse service and was supported by a Cruse volunteer for around six months before she decided she was able to live a life without her mum.
“Even before my mum died, I spoke to my GP because I knew that losing my mother was going to be really difficult for me to come to terms with as my mum is my best friend. But they told me they couldn’t help until she died.
“After a month of my mum’s death I knew I needed to speak to someone as I was crying all the time. My GP recommended that I got in contact with Cruse Bereavement Care. I got in contact with my local Cruse service and within two to three weeks they called me back and a week later my bereavement councillor, Helen came around to see me.
“I felt like my mum sent Helen to support me as Helen was also my mum’s name. Right from the start, I felt like Helen was the one to help me. At first we didn’t speak much about my mum, mainly just how I was feeling as I was working a lot of hours.
“Helen gave me the opportunity to talk about my mum in my own time, she allowed me to rant and rave about everything which really helped. After our first initial session, Helen began to feel like my friend and I really looked forward to seeing her. I wrote down everything I wanted to speak to her about before the meetings, she never judged me.
“I went on holiday in May and when I got back I felt much better and said to Helen that I felt able to cope on my own. I don’t think I would have coped without the support of Helen. I think I would have gone into a depression. I suffer with anxiety already and I think I might have turned to alcohol to help me get through it.
“I still have bad days, but Helen reassured me that was normal and allowed. I got engaged earlier in the year and am now planning my wedding in my mum’s memory. Helen made me see that even through my mother isn’t alive she is alive in me and I try my best every day to do my mum proud.”
In December 2018 Gemma was interviewed by ITV Good Morning Britain for their '1 Million Minutes' campaign which asks people to pledge time to support someone who has been bereaved. Cruse Bereavement Care was one of three charities that took part. Find out more about the campaign here.