Nic, a 52 year old writer from Hampshire decided to become a Cruse bereavement volunteer shortly after her dad died in 2016. After the death of both her parents, Nic started a campaign called ‘Four Little Words’ as she found that many people simply didn’t know what to say to her when she was grieving.
Nic says: “I knew about Cruse Bereavement Care as I worked for a local newspaper in Richmond which is where the national Cruse office is based. My mother had worked at the Citizen Advice Bureau and referred many clients to them so I knew the great work the charity did.
“My mum died in 2012 from a brain tumour and my dad just a few years later in 2016. After their deaths I found that people were at a loss for words so often didn’t say anything to me at all. I went out one morning just after my dad died and someone I knew who was walking their dog turned on their heels very quickly when they saw me coming. Clearly they didn’t want to talk to me. I know it wasn’t done out of malice, but I found it very hurtful. It wasn’t the only time it happened.
After speaking to other people, I realised how common this reaction was so I launched a campaign called ‘Four Little Words’ on Facebook and Twitter. It has now built to around 5,000 followers and it is a forum for people to connect and share their stories of grief and loss. I have spoken to so many people who have discovered that sadly friends and colleagues simply don’t know what to say to them when they are grieving. My campaign is about breaking down some of the taboos surrounding this. It encourages people to try and talk and be there for the bereaved at the very least by acknowledging that they are sorry for their loss. It is so hard sometimes not to hear these words when someone close to you has died. I don’t think people are equipped to say them and are scared of saying the wrong thing. I also want to get the important message out there, that there is no shame in sharing your grief and that bereaved people want their loved ones mentioned, not forgotten.
“I decided I wanted to train to become a bereavement volunteer to help people who had been through a similar experience as me. I did my training in the autumn of 2017 and qualified to become a bereavement volunteer at the start of 2018.
“I absolutely love being a bereavement volunteer, it is one of the best things I have ever done. The people at the local Cruse service I volunteer at (SW Surrey) are so experienced, kind and supportive, it is a wonderful and very professional environment to be part of. I find being a volunteer massively rewarding and I enjoy seeing people progress over the course of their one-to-one sessions.
“I love meeting different clients and consider it a real privilege to listen to someone who is in their darkest hours. I am a people person and really enjoy the one-to-one contact. I have just finished supporting my fourth client and I help out at welcome mornings for people enquiring about our support. I am also about to do some more training so I can offer group support.
“I found the training quite testing and emotionally tiring as I did not have any experience of counselling. But it was so rewarding and I learnt an incredible amount. I have a fantastic supervisor, she has more than 28 years’ experience and shares her knowledge in such a supportive and helpful way.
“I am a writer and like to encourage the people I am supporting to express their thoughts through creative writing as this can help with processing loss and the whirlpool of emotions they are feeling. Some of the things that people have written have been amazing. One lady wrote her husband an open letter describing to him how he died as she was worried he didn’t know. It blew me away. I am constantly humbled by people’s experiences and their bravery.
“To anyone considering being a Cruse bereavement supporter, I would tell them to not hesitate and do the training. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience as you get all the training you need as well as excellent back up once you are doing the job. If you have been bereaved and are feeling lonely, definitely contact Cruse Bereavement Care, I have seen how just having an hour a week to talk to someone can make a massive difference as you try to cope with the pain of grief. ”
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