In this time where we are facing many losses caused by COVID-19, the services offered by Cruse will be greatly valued and needed.

I can particularly empathise with families bereaved by this virus, as my own younger son Daniel died in 2002, aged just 21, from an unknown virus which migrated into his brain and killed him in six short days. My family and Daniel’s friends were devastated as he was a fit, healthy young man prior to this. As his mother, I had to try to deal with my own devastating grief as well as supporting my other two children and Daniel’s girlfriend. It felt like a surreal nightmare, and I remember carrying his ashes home in an urn but not being able to relate this to the handsome, fit boy my son had been just a few weeks earlier! I learned a lot about myself at that time, and I clearly remembered Daniel saying, weeks before he became ill, that I should start doing counselling, which I had previously practiced, and also that I should never become a ‘couch potato’! I took him at his word and decided that I could help others going through the shock and stress of bereavement, through counselling. Many years prior to this I had volunteered with Cruse, but decided to undertake a further Diploma in Counselling at Glasgow University and return to Cruse armed with personal experience of grief and loss, and with a professional qualification.

I now volunteer for Cruse as a fully trained and qualified Counsellor. I find that I can fully understand what people are going through when a loved one dies, having experienced the devastation, the mixed feelings of denial and disbelief, anger and guilt which often accompany such a loss. And the surreal feeling that you may be going mad as thoughts and feelings rush through you while you try to come to terms with the grief and loss, and wonder how this event could have been avoided. Counsellors listen intently to the pain and grief of the bereaved person and offer reassurance that they can ultimately come through this life-changing experience and still live a meaningful life, as I myself have done.

When I returned to Cruse after a gap of many years, having volunteered for another counselling service in between, I was warmly welcomed and attended an Induction Day at Cruse HQ. This was very informative and interesting, plus it gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with other Cruse volunteers from all different roles within the organisation. I knew instantly that I was becoming part of a team with one goal: to support people who are struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved one.

I love volunteering for Cruse and I feel it is immensely satisfying to be of service to others when they are at their lowest point and trying to make sense of life and death. Many people find it too expensive to seek the support of a private counsellor, but they can come to Cruse and offer a donation based on what they can afford. As it is a charity, it means that anyone can attend who has little or no income. Yet they know they will be received and listened to in full confidence. And that makes volunteering with Cruse supremely worthwhile and rewarding for me.