Grief Awareness Week (2-8 December) aims to highlight the devastating impact the loss of a loved one can have on our mental health and promote the services dedicated to helping people cope with bereavement.
It also encourages people to share their stories of how grief has affected them to help others better understand the impact of loss and how opening up about the emotions surrounding grief can help people move forward with their lives.
Sophie James originally from Somerset now living in Lancaster, lost her much loved mum, Siobhan, to cancer a few years ago just 10 weeks after her initial diagnosis. The suddenness of her mum’s death, who Sophie describes as her “best friend”, left her devastated.
“I was finding my day-to-day life increasingly difficult due to intrusive thoughts and feeling overwhelmed by grief and trauma. Although I have lived with depression for many years, my mental health deteriorated as a result of losing mum,” said Sophie.
Struggling to cope, Sophie was referred to CancerCare by her GP who recommended our specialist bereavement counselling services as a way of helping her work through her profound feelings of loss.
Sophie began sessions with counsellor David James and was initially apprehensive about opening herself up to someone she didn’t know.
“I was scared to be honest about my mental state and share my feelings, but my catastrophising had spiralled out of control and it was only once I had begun my sessions with David at CancerCare that I realised my grief was a contributing factor to this and making it worse,” said Sophie.
With David’s support, over the coming weeks Sophie gradually worked through her feelings of pain and loss in the quiet and relaxed environment of our Slynedales Centre.
“Before my sessions at CancerCare, my thoughts were like a tangled web of trauma, pain, and sadness on a daily basis, so talking through things slowly and feeling heard and understood, meant everything. Working with David, I was able to recognise my feelings and calm my thoughts. I went through a noticeable transformation, from being a closed off, afraid young person to someone who felt more in control.
“I looked forward to seeing David every week. Admittedly, not always the sessions themselves as sometimes what we needed to talk about was difficult, but it was important to relinquish myself and open up about the worst experiences. I knew I wouldn’t have been able to do this without such a wonderful, caring expert like David,” said Sophie.
Sophie has since finished her therapy at CancerCare and while the loss of her mum has left a huge hole in her life, the raw pain she felt immediately after her death has eased.
“She was the best mum, and most caring, strong, and compassionate person. I love her and miss her every single day. I still have my dark days like anyone, as there is no fix or ‘band aid’ for bereavement or mental illness, but I carry so much of what I learned from my sessions with me in my daily life, which helps me so much,” said Sophie.
“I would recommend CancerCare to anyone affected by bereavement. It is painful losing someone you love so much, but actively prioritising your mental wellbeing and accessing professional support can lay the foundation for a happier present and future. It is never too late to seek help. David was a true anchor and confidante in my life and steered me through my lowest points. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been able to access support like this, and I would advise anyone else struggling to reach out to CancerCare.”
If you, or anyone you know, could use some extra support, please get in touch