Margaret, aged 73 from Kent came to Cruse Bereavement Care when her husband died suddenly on Christmas Eve 11 years ago. Since then she has attended a local group organised by Cruse and has made many close friends. She says talking and getting involved with Cruse has helped her with her grief.
Margaret says: “I first heard about Cruse when my doctor told me to contact my local service three months after my husband died. I was very lucky to be seen by one of Cruse’s bereavement supporters within a week of contacting them.
“I just had one session, but it was one of the best things I have ever done. During my first session, my bereavement volunteer told me about a group that Cruse Bexley Heath runs every Thursday and she encouraged me to go.
“When I first went to the group I sat next to a lady who is now a very close friend of mine. When we started talking we found out that we had a lot in common – we were married in the same year, on the same day and at the same time and our husbands died within 10 days of each other. After a couple of months of going to the group I started laughing again. After I first laughed I went home and cried, it broke my heart, but it is important to laugh.
“I have been going to this group for 11 years now and if the bereavement volunteers are busy, I will often chat to people who are new and introduce them to everyone. We are quite a lively bunch!
“Everyone grieves differently, by what helped me was getting involved and talking to people. You learn to live around your grief and being involved in this amazing group has helped me to do that, they are like my second family. We have been abroad together, go out for meals, go to the theatre and regularly meet up.
“As a way of giving back, I organise a raffle every Thursday. A lot of people bring things for it and we make a bit of money. I use the money to organise Easter and Christmas parties and my daughter helps me with this. This year I am organising a Mad Hatters Tea Party for Easter.
“I also give a talk to people training to become Cruse bereavement volunteers. I have been doing this for the last seven years and explain there are lots of different ways to grieve. I talk about how beneficial writing can be and talk about my granddaughter who was 10 years-old when her grandad died. She is a great writer and said to me after his death that she couldn’t cry, but would write and wrote a beautiful poem in his memory. I now read this out to the new recruits. I am very proud of her.
“I moved into a retirement village a couple of years ago and the lady I met at the group on the first day lives just a couple of doors down from me. A couple of others from the group have also moved here, so we have our own Cruse community, we call it “Cruse Court”.
“If I hadn’t been to Cruse, I wouldn’t be here now. When my husband died I was at the bottom of the steepest hill and I didn’t know my way up. But when I walked through Cruse’s doors it was the start of that journey.”
Earlier this year, Margaret shared her story in a short film to mark our 60th anniversary.
Read more 60 Voices stories, here.