Mary, aged 73 from Richmond has been a bereavement volunteer for Cruse Richmond for over 22 years. Mary had a close family bereavement when she was a young girl and this encouraged her to support children and young people who are grieving a loved one. She says volunteering for Cruse Bereavement Care is incredibly rewarding.
“I must have heard about Cruse Bereavement Care in the local paper and seen an advertisement for the Cruse bereavement training course. I decided to do the course and volunteer for my local service, Cruse Richmond. At that time I was running a nursery school so I hoped I might be able to support bereaved children within Cruse. I also believe that it is important to give something back to the community.
“I was bereaved as a child. My older brother died when I was 10 years-old and it had a massive effect on me. Bereavement was not something we talked about at home when I was growing up and I wanted to change that.
“After finishing the Cruse course I started volunteering for Richmond Cruse. I later attended a training to become a Cruse Children and Young People (CYP) volunteer. I gradually realised that I did not fully understand what “counselling” as Cruse called it in those days, was really about. I decided to train to become a counsellor/psychotherapist. I completed a degree in person-centered counselling in 2004. I learned how to enter a client’s world by listening and offering them empathy, congruence and unconditional positive regard. Through personal therapy I learned to understand and accept myself, my strengths and weaknesses. I also learned what it was like to be a ‘client’.
“I really enjoy volunteering for Cruse Richmond. I value the friendship and support from all the other volunteers. I learn something new from every client I see. I feel privileged to accompany them through their bereavement.
“Over the last 22 years, I have noticed that the clients who approach Cruse have become more varied. Many clients are now referred to us via mental health services. I have also noticed a rise in bereavement through suicide and bereaved children who self harm.
“I usually support up to three people a week. Clients approaching Cruse Richmond are offered six sessions of 50 minutes each. Further sessions can be offered following discussion with a supervisor. I visit clients in their homes or in a rooms we hire. I am a Cruse supervisor, I help with CPD training, and I represent the supervisors and our CYP Service at our Executive and Client Services Committee meetings. I also give one off assessments to clients whose needs are more complex.
“I have four passions. My family, supporting bereaved people through Cruse, tennis and children. Family will always come first. I love playing and watching tennis. I also enjoy spending time with my 11 grandchildren.
“I have many happy memories from volunteering with Cruse Bereavement Care. Clients are so grateful for the support we offer them. I cannot take their grief away but I can listen to them and help them understand that, in time, their life will expand around their grief.
“We are a great team at Cruse Richmond. My being part of this team is like being part of one happy family.”
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