Michelle, from Northampton was a bereavement volunteer for Cruse Northampton. Michelle’s first husband died in 2004 from a very rare form of cancer called angiosarcoma when she was aged 32. Becoming a bereavement volunteer for Cruse Bereavement Care helped her to understand the trauma she went through and support others who have gone through a similar experience.
Michelle says: “My first husband, Steve took his last breath on Saturday 13th March surrounded by his loving family. For me, it felt like my world was over. I was 32 years-old with a six year old daughter and I was a widow.
“I was in shock for what felt like a long time. My daughter, Ellie and I just tried to get through each day. Looking back I wish I had joined a group of other widows with children so that I could have met up with them and Ellie could have mixed with children that had suffered the same.
“I had no support for Ellie, we sheltered her a little to be honest but once Steve had died, she had great support from the school. We were offered counselling for her from the local hospital but she went once and didn’t like it. It was our friends and family that really pulled us through those first difficult months.
“After a while I started to go out with friends a bit more and while out with them I met a really nice man in a club. Lee and I chatted and when I told him I was widowed, his reaction was priceless. Unlike other men that I had spoken to who would just wince and look at me with a shocked reaction, he just said he was sorry and asked if I wanted to go for a drink sometime. That was how our friendship began and in 2008 we got married.
“A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to volunteer for Cruse Bereavement Care as a Bereavement Support Volunteer. I heard about Cruse through a friend who had been supported by them. When we got chatting, I said I wanted to do some kind of volunteering work.
“I wanted to work with bereaved clients because of my own experience, not to say that 'you will get through this, because I did' but to allow them space to talk, share their thoughts and feelings when they may feel that there is no-one else out there to listen to them.
“I was accepted onto the ABC training course and sharing my experiences, listening to others and learning all about grief and bereavement, helped me understand about myself, my family and the trauma that we actually did go through. I passed my training and I became a volunteer for my local Cruse service.
“I enjoyed being a volunteer, supporting clients when they are on a real emotional journey. I loved the fact that the clients that I saw, they shared some real deep emotions, we talked, I listened, we laughed and some had the courage to start being them again.”
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