Pauline, aged 54, from Antrim in Northern Ireland was supported by Cruse Bereavement Care on two separate occasions. She first contacted Cruse after her husband, Gerard died suddenly from an epileptic seizure in 1999 and got in touch again in 2014 when her second husband, Dermot died after an 18 month battle with cancer. Pauline says that speaking to a Cruse bereavement volunteer helped her to find herself again.
Pauline said: "After the sudden death of my first husband, I was in complete shock. My brother had died from suicide two weeks before my husband’s death and I felt like a soldier in a middle of a battle field, I couldn’t show my emotion. I was trying to be strong and protect my two daughters.
“I heard about Cruse through one of the teachers at my daughter’s school. I got in contact with Cruse Belfast and was put on the waiting list. I had no expectations at the start of my first session, but within half an hour it was pouring out of me.
“The support helped me to find my building blocks and find myself again. My bereavement volunteer allowed me to express myself and I just talked and cried. He had an ability to ask but not question and was very easy to talk to. My father died from suicide when I was younger, and my mother passed away with motor neuron disease shortly after my husband, so I was able to open up about that as well.
“After my second husband died, I contacted Cruse again. I knew the support I had received from Cruse before had helped me, so I knew it would help me again. My bereavement volunteer was absolutely incredible and this time I was able to go deeper into my youth which helped my grief.
“After my six sessions I then joined a friendship group which was set up by Cruse. The group is based in Belfast Antrim and we call it the “Big Friendly Grievers”. There are about fourteen of us that regularly meet up and share our experiences. They are amazing people and we are hoping to start advertising to find new members.
“Cruse has given me so much and taught me that it is OK to smile and laugh again. I now have the tools to grieve in my own way and not worry about what other people think. It has given me permission to start looking forward to the future.
“Cruse was an absolute unsung hero for me and I would encourage others to get in contact with them. There is no pressure and it might not be for you, but talking to a stranger who has been trained to support people who have been bereaved can be really helpful.”
Read more bereavement stories here.