Diane, aged 86 from the Isle of Wight has been a Cruse bereavement supporter for 23 years, she is the longest serving Cruse volunteer on the Island. She has been invited to go to Buckingham Palace in a few months’ time in recognition of the invaluable support she has given to the organisation and the hundreds of people she has supported.
Diane says: “I was looking at what to do once I retired and saw an advert in the local paper for training to become a bereavement volunteer for Cruse. I had been an Education Welfare Officer for the last 20 years and this seemed the right role for me as I had some transferrable skills which could be useful.
“I did the bereavement training course in preparation for my retirement and started supporting one person a week, since then I have supported hundreds of people, including children and am now a supervisor for other bereavement volunteers who make up our telephone team.
“I really enjoy the work, I love listening to people and still give one-to-one support to bereaved people in their own homes. I also spend one day a week on the telephone speaking to people enquiring about our support on the Isle of Wight and conduct phone assessments.
“Some of the challenges of being a bereavement volunteer is keeping your own feelings in check. It can be quite draining at times. When you are listening to someone who is grieving it may strike a chord with your own bereavement experience which must never be voiced to a client.
“It is incredibly rewarding and very gratifying when you see people you have supported doing well and benefiting from the help you have given them. I feel very fortunate and privileged that I am able to do something so satisfying.
“I have been to some exciting events over the years. During Cruse’s 50th anniversary year I was voted by the Island branch to go to St. James’ Palace for an evening reception to meet the Queen who is Cruse’s Royal Patron. It was an unforgettable experience that was attended by Cruse members from across the country.
“To be a bereavement volunteer you need to be able to listen, listening is the most important aspect of our role. You have to be able to give people space to say anything they want and give them reassurance to do so. If you can do this, then you will be a great Cruse Bereavement Volunteer.”
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