A year ago I lost my Dad. The pain was excruciating to say the least. It was a complex and devastating situation. Grief is never straightforward. I don’t think it’s something you just go through and then it’s done. I think it becomes part of you. It changes your makeup. My foundations were totally shattered and it was a Tsunami that hit my family to the core. The complexities of the situation surrounding Dad's death made me feel like I couldn’t grieve him in any normal sense and I felt utterly broken. Amidst this was our beautiful, joyful little boy who I now realise kept me alive over this time. I had to get out of bed. I had to smile. I had to sing and continue to love. Any energy I had went into my little boy. Then when he slept I sat there broken. Nothing left for me. Nothing left for my partner. Nothing left for my friends and family. Devastated and numb all at once.
Dad died on 19th April 2021. In the September I realised I couldn’t get through this on my own. My mental health was in a very dark place. I went to the doctor and asked for help. I filled out a number of questionnaires about my situation. A lovely woman called me for an initial assessment and then referred me for NHS Grief Counselling. I was incredibly lucky to be fast-tracked due to the situation and having a child under two. The relief flooded through my body. Through my head and heart. The physical feeling of hope. I had actively done something to try and pull myself out of this pain.
I chose to have face to face sessions with my counsellor. I will call her Wendy for this blog. I did not know what to expect and I felt very anxious before my first session with Wendy. I sat in the waiting room with crosses on certain chairs to encourage social distancing. Then the door opened and a woman said my name. She was wearing a mask but she had the warmest manner. We walked up a few flights of stairs and filled the time with polite conversation. I already really liked her and we hadn’t even reached her consultation room. She threw open the door and welcomed me into the room. We sat down opposite each other. Wendy was kind. She told me she was on my team. I could start wherever I wanted to. And then I broke. I cried like I have never cried in front of another person before. I could hardly breathe. Wendy’s eyes were full of empathy and kindness. Ready to catch me. To pass me tissue after tissue. She listened and drew diagrams of my feelings to help me understand what was going on inside my broken heart and mind. At the end of each session, I would leave lighter. I would leave feeling a little healed.
Over the months she has actively supported me and given me strategies to survive. Wendy is my hero. She saved my life. I mean it. She has helped me begin to glue the pieces back together. She does not have a magic wand but she certainly sprinkles a little fairy dust behind her. We speak on a medical, personal and spiritual level and she accepts everything I throw at her. I am terrified about our sessions ending but I am prepping myself for this happening.
I miss my Dad deeply. I think about him daily. However, now I am able to smile when he pops into my head. I am made of him. I have conversations with him and feel connected to him still. I hope this lasts forever. He was a complex and magnificent man. I am grateful that I had a Dad I could call my Dad and one of my greatest friends. For Mental Health Awareness week I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to our incredible NHS and Wendy. My Dad would have bloody loved her!
Written by Kim Burnett on the 12/05/2022