As part of The Hunts Post ‘We Need to Talk...’ grief campaign senior reporter Clare Butler spoke with Anne Aldred from Cruse Bereavement
“The most important thing is be kind to yourself, don’t judge yourself and give yourself space to do what you need to do.”
These are the words of Cruse Bereavement volunteer Anne Aldred, from Huntingdon.
The 61-year-old has been helping bereaved people by volunteering with the charity since 2008.
She told The Hunts Post that it came from a place of compassion in wanting to help others regain a sense of joy in life again after a devastating loss.
But that doesn’t mean grief goes away, Anne explained.
“Grief never disappears, people are told it should that they should just get used to it,” she said.
“But in fact, it is learning to adjust your life to accommodate the grief.
“I often liken it to a egg, where the yoke is the grief and the white of the yolk is life going on around you.
“As time goes on that yoke never diminishes but the white of the life expands around you and you develop ways of coping with it. “I think it’s like having a big sack of grief that eventually goes to a suitcase and then it may be the size of a handbag that you carry around with you that becomes part of everyday life.”
Cruse’s mission is to support those struggling after someone dies by offering support, advice and information to children, young people and adults.
Their main values are to be responsive, compassionate, respectful, supportive and innovative.
Anne continued: “I speak to a range of people who have lots of different types of bereavement.
“You need to be none-judgemental; it doesn’t matter how long ago the bereavement happened.
“It could be the death of a lover or a mother who was abusive or a prisoner – even a murderer – and we would not judge them in anyway.
“What they say to us is completely confidential, it does not go any further than our ears, so it gives them the chance to say things to us that they may never say to anyone else in their lives.”
Although Anne can listen and relate to others with her own life experiences; she explained that grief must be a path that people journey through in their own way.
“You walk alongside that person and walk in their shoes, but you’re never in the black hole of grief with them,” she said.
“If we’re both in that hole together then we can’t get out.
“My role is to offer the rope to be able to climb out of the hole of despondency.
“Talking to people is critical – keeping it to yourself is not helpful, if you have someone outside the situation too then talk to them.”
Anne also talked about the importance in keeping in contact with someone who is bereaved.
She added: “A lot of people are not ok, and when you give them the time and listen to them then it is really important in helping them understand and process their own grieve.
“Everyone’s grief is different. Some people never recover or want to change things.
“But someone else may want to set up a new tradition to remember their lost loved ones, or join in with a charity fundraiser.”
Cruse’s The Big Coastal Challenge will take place throughout October.
It will see people join together to run, walk, cycle or swim the parts of the UK coastline taking on a combined 18,358km.
The Huntingdonshire branch of Cruse is also always on the lookout for fundraising support.
Cruse offers telephone, email and website support. They have a freephone national helpline and local services, and a website (hopeagain.org.uk) specifically for children and young people.
Their services are provided by a network of 5,000 trained volunteers and are confidential and free.
They Huntingdonshire branch can be contacted by visiting: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/local-services/eastern-england/huntingdonshire or calling 07902 662492.
For more information on The Big Coastal Challenge visit: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-involved/fundraising/big-coastal-challenge
The Hunts Post team has also produced a We Need to Talk...Grief podcast which has some heart-breaking interviews with those who have experienced loss, as well as advice and support from health professionals and bereavement charities.
You can listen to the We Need to Talk podcast via our host Audioboom online at www.podfollow.com/need-to-talk or your podcast provider.