I became interested in counselling work when I, myself, went through the process of bereavement and grief and it was that experience that encouraged me to train as a counsellor. I have been part of the St Luke’s Bereavement team for two years now and enjoy everything about it.
We are still working on screen at the moment and that was quite challenging to start with because I had never done anything online before but no matter how we do the job, the approach is always the same.
This job is all about listening. You are listening to somebody’s story, a story of life before, during and after their loss.
Building relationships is very important - they have to trust in you and start to open up about their lives, telling you their things about the innermost depths of despair.
There are different elements to the process of grief and bereavement but those elements come at different times for different people and part of our job is about helping people to realise that they are not on their own, that this is all part of the grieving process and we are there through the journey with them.
Some people will have just one session with us and they will find that’s enough, but some clients are with us much longer and that’s perfectly all right - there’s no limit on the time any one person can be with us.
We see people from different lifestyles, different cultures and who have different beliefs but that makes the work even more interesting because no two people are ever the same.
I think the biggest thing for people going through grief is the vulnerability, the feeling of isolation, and it does help to be able to talk about that, but grief can lead to anything from insomnia to memory loss and we are there to support people at every stage.
Of course the conversations can be very sad and I am only human but that’s why we work as a team, so we can all support each other.
We do get so many cards from people thanking us for the support we have given, which is lovely but we don’t expect it.
The greatest thing for a counsellor is when you come to the end of the journey with someone and you get so much satisfaction from that, seeing how they have grown as a person and can go on to their new normal.