Claire, aged 25 from Newcastle upon Tyne received one-to-one support from Cruse Bereavement Care after her mum died when she was 17 years-old. She recently ran the Great North Run in memory of her mum and raised more than £640 for Cruse Bereavement Care.
Claire, says: “After losing my Mum at 17, I found it difficult to communicate with others about it. I immediately shut down and thought I wasn’t allowed to cry or talk about it. Most of the significant people in my family are males and I mimicked their approach.
“A friend of mine told me she was coming to pick me up and take me shopping in Belfast. We actually didn’t go shopping; she brought me to an open evening at Cruse in Belfast. At first I was very hesitant but thankfully she made me go in. We sat and listened to a general overview of their services. While I was there, my friend organised me to talk to someone about the help I could get.
“I ended up having one-to-one support sessions with a lovely lady. I didn’t tell many people I was having support, I was lucky enough to have friends who would drive me into Belfast and wait for my session to be over as I was too scared to drive in Belfast city centre.
“The support I received from my bereavement supporter helped me 100 per cent. After losing Mum I didn’t know how to communicate and thought I wasn’t allowed to. I saw crying as a sign of weakness because my role as the only woman in the house now meant I had to be strong.
“My bereavement supporter allowed me to be a 17 year old girl who had just lost her Mum. I could talk about first finding out she was sick, to going to hospital to finally having to say goodbye. At this time, my memories of Mum were a blur (they still are), but I found it hard to remember much. I had blocked everything out to carry on with life. During my sessions, I was able to make a memory bracelet which I still have.
“Every session was different, sometimes I cried, shouted, laughed but my volunteer always listened to whatever I had to say. She never judged me which I think was most important.
“I talked about how I couldn’t make myself go to the grave. Others around me were going all the time and I felt people were judging me because I didn’t go. She told me I didn’t have to do what others did to grieve and I would do it in my own way. Sadly it brought back too many bad memories and even though I was annoyed that I couldn’t go to the grave, she gave me the reassurance that it was ok. I still haven’t got myself to go to the grave, eight years on. I have tried many times with different people but it gets too much for me. My volunteer’s words still stick in my head, its ok not to go because I remember her in my own way.
“At first it was a bit awkward- talking about the worst time of my life with a complete stranger but it was the best way for me to process what had happened. Without this support, I don’t think I would be where I am now.
“I would definitely recommend people to get in contact if they have been bereaved. The support brought me back to being me. I could be a 17 year old girl who was going off to university. I still think back to the sessions I had and how much they helped me.”
Read more bereavement stories here.