In 2020 I saw a note on the charity’s Facebook page about becoming a Bereavement Listening Volunteer. Having recently taken redundancy after 21 years at a local financial services company I had already decided to take some time out and do some voluntary work for a whilte.
Having seen first-hand the amazing work that the Hospice does – they had cared for my grandad in his final week – I wanted to give something back.
I spoke with Ann, the Bereavement Support Lead, not really knowing what I was taking on – I thought it would having a bit of a chat and a cup of tea.
Ann’s 10 week training course quite literally changed my life. I had been a fixer (anyone and everyone’s problems) and Ann gave me permission to move out of that role. It was exactly what I needed at that time. As a result of the training, I enrolled at Aylesbury College and I am now working through level three of a counselling course, and in two more years’ time, I hope to be a qualified counsellor.
The support and encouragement from Ann and Elaine (my supervisor) has been amazing, they are free to talk whenever it is needed. I wouldn’t have had the courage to undertake a college course without their support and wise words.
I find it incredibly humbling that a stranger wants to share the story of loss of their loved one with me. Being able to give them my time, empathy and a safe space allows them to share the feelings that they are going through. At the end of however many weeks it takes, for a client to say that they don’t need me anymore as they are feeling stronger and are able to start to face the challenges without their loved one, is a great feeling.
My supervisory group of fellow listeners are a lovely collection of people who have different outlooks, experience, and knowledge, which they all seem to happily share. Having worked for the same company for half of my life it has been great to meet new people with new ideas, but who have the same values as me.
Listening isn’t easy, and you can’t do it for yourself, you have to want to help others – as Ann says, it’s not about you. It is very rewarding, and for me personally has opened a whole new world that I didn’t know existed.