Jonathan, aged 42, is a bereavement volunteer for our service in Thames Valley Berkshire. He is also one of our trainers and delivers loss and bereavement awareness training to individuals and organisations across the South East of England and has recently facilitated workshops for the emergency services. Jonathan says it is a privilege to work with people who are going through a challenging time in their lives.
Jonathan says: "For me, volunteering with Cruse Bereavement Care was about wanting to give something back. People have often told me that I am an empathetic listener, and that I have a calming presence, so I thought supporting bereaved people would be a way to put those attributes to good use. The experience of being bereaved myself also made me reflect on how important it is to have someone to talk to. Grief can be an incredibly lonely experience, even when amongst friends and family, each of whom will experience the loss differently.
"It is a privilege to be able to work with people who are often going through what might be the most challenging times of their lives. Grief can literally tear you apart, so being there for someone through this feels both important and rewarding. I’m comfortable with tears and strong emotions so don’t find that part of the work challenging. Sometimes you are with someone when they cry for the first time following a bereavement, or a client might be able to confide in you, perhaps sharing anger or guilt which they cannot express elsewhere. Of course clients don’t leave us ‘fixed’, but our time together might often be an important part – or perhaps even the start – of working though their loss.
"I took up volunteering for Cruse at a time when I was at a crossroads in my life. I have since started psychotherapy training and quit my day job, and now do freelance work for Cruse. I deliver loss and bereavement awareness training to employees of organisations across the South East of England who might come across bereaved people in their working lives. Recently I’ve also been facilitating workshops for the emergency services as part of the You Behind the Uniform Project. I see this as an important part of Cruse’s mission to improve society’s treatment of bereaved people, whilst supporting those who experience loss day after day. This work makes me realise how badly education about loss and bereavement is needed: one paramedic said to me that he didn’t think he had ever seen the words ‘bereavement’ and ‘care’ together before.
"Volunteering with Cruse is a deeply rewarding experience on many levels. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about yourself and others in a really profound way through being there for your clients and reflecting on the work. You’re well supported and there’s lots of ongoing training, from the annual conference to regional events and regular local training. Cruse does sometimes feel like a big family, and a rather happy one too, which might seem surprising given that we focus on bereavement. There are certainly smiles as well as tears."
(Photo copyright: Shearshooting.com)
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