My name is Lilian and I’m a fully trained and qualified Counsellor/Therapist currently volunteering as a Counsellor with Cruse Bereavement in Glasgow.
Seventeen years ago, in 2002, I arrived home from my job as an English & Special Needs Teacher to find my younger son Daniel, then aged just 21, delirious in bed.
He appeared not to recognize me. I immediately called our Doctor who sent an ambulance to take Daniel to the Royal Infirmary: he quickly deteriorated and he was kept sedated as he started to suffer massive and uncontrollable fits so he was transferred to the Southern General Neurological Department where we watched him die after six days in which the medics gave him what they called “..industrial doses of drugs” as they realized he was gravely ill but with no discernible cause.
Indeed, no cause was ever found but we were told that he had contracted a virus which entered his brain. 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 grief as well as supporting my other two children and his 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 the Reiki Healing which I used to practice 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 been involved with Cruse as a Counsellor and I decided to undertake a 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 Counsellor and I find that I can fully understand what people are going through when a loved one dies having experienced the devastation, the feelings of denial, anger and disbelief which often accompany such a loss, and the surreal feeling that you may be going mad as thoughts and feelings rush through you as you try to come to terms with the grief and loss.
I feel that I can look people in the eye as I have been there myself and I can offer reassurance that the bereaved person can ultimately come through this life-changing experience!
I love volunteering at 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 go to a private Counsellor but they can come to Cruse and pay whatever they can afford as it is a Charity and that means many people attend who have little or no income yet they know they will be received and listened to in full confidence.
That makes volunteering supremely worthwhile for me.