Here, Harrogate woman Marie Cunnington describes how, 10 years ago, “the right support at the right time” helped her and her family to cope following the death of her son.
“I met my husband when I was 17 and we married at 20. We had three children, albeit a big gap between second and third children. My eldest attended uni and graduated, my second son studied art at college and my youngest was at school.
“I became divorced in 2009 after quite of lot of difficult years to contend with. I felt I was always ‘the coper’, the glue which held us all together.
“And then 10 years ago without any warning, James – my elder son – took his own life. Up until that point I thought we, as a family, were beginning to turn a corner. Then this. It totally pulled the rug out from under me.
“While dealing with all the emotions of grief, we also had to deal with all the practical processes a death requires. You might make plans for the inevitable death of your parents when they become old but I never thought I would have to deal with the death of my child.
“Someone at my work suggested I talk to Just ‘B’. They were a new service and I knew nothing much about them. I didn’t know if it would cost, or if I’d have to wait for ages. At that point, I needed something right there and then to help me.
“I felt like the tent pole, with all the rest of the family sheltering underneath and I could not let that tent pole fall.
“Two weeks after my son’s death, I came to Just ‘B’ and it was absolutely the right thing at the right time for me. It was absolutely invaluable support at a very critical point in my life. My support worker was so kind. She was surprised to hear that I had not had any counseling after the break-up of my marriage.
“I didn’t feel able ask for help at that point. Fear holds you back… what will people think? Am I not strong enough to deal with this?
“She explained that death is not the only bereavement a person can go through. She gave me permission to say “No, I’m not ok, no I’m not over this and this is how I feel.”
“Her support helped me understand the emotional processes you go through following bereavement. It is not linear, and although it is sometimes called a cycle of grief, you can go back and forth many times.
“My young teenage daughter was also able to get support too. Emotional support for children is such a specialist area. She was 14 at the time – it’s a difficult age for many young people and James’s death was a massive curveball. The devastation that grief can cause is so long lasting.
“Just B helped me to express myself and my feelings. It gradually helped me find my own tools. There is no magic wand, but you can find ways to cope.
“Sometimes a simple question, like “How many children do you have?” would floor me, but bereavement support can help you find a strategy to deal with things like this.
“Just ‘B’ gave me the understanding that whatever you feel is OK and that there is no time limit on grief. Just ‘B’ support has been life changing for me. I could not have coped without it. “
“Just ‘B’ is an amazing service. They were there for my family in our darkest hours. I’ll always be thankful for the timely intervention delivered with care and concern, helping me and others to manage my emotions, thoughts and feelings.”