BEREAVEMENT: HOW TO COPE
R ACHEL WAS 25 with a six-week-old son when her father died suddenly. “It was a very traumatising time” the North-West Londoner recalls. “I was a new mum, which was hard enough. But losing my father at the same time was nearly impossible to cope with.”
She found it difficult to grieve and did not want to trouble family mem- bers who were also dealing with the impact of the loss. Her husband had not suffered a similar bereavement and she felt alone with no one to confide in.
“I was very emotional. People all grieve very differently and I felt under pressure to be the best mum I could be to my baby and to not let my grief get in the way.”
Rachel is one of many in the community who, struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved one, have turned for support to a specialist group.
In her case, she contacted Jewish Care’s Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service. She was initially unsure if it would be right for her — “I’m quite
frum and was worried it wouldn’t be appropriate. But they told me their sessions were for everyone and to just come along and see how I liked it.”
Rachel, now 28, attended its Butterflies group, a counselling service for young mums and dads.
She went to monthly meetings at which members discussed their loss and received support from trained counsellors. “I found it hard at first because most people in the group had lost a mother,” she reflects. “But there was so much that I needed to get off my chest.
“You could share in the feeling of being robbed of your parent. We all could relate to the sadness we felt that our lost one would never see our children walk or say their first words.”
She also found the one-to-one counselling set up by the JBCS “hugely beneficial. I just wanted someone to listen to me. I found it hard to draw the line between being a new mum and dealing with the loss of my dad.
“It was somewhere I could get my emotions out and it helped me to be there for my son as well.”
Butterflies co-ordinator Marilyn Paul says the youngest person to have attended the group was a 20-year-old mum mourning her own mother.
“Some have lost their parents recently — some lost them when they were younger. But they are all going through the experience of having a baby without their lost parent’s support.
“They haven’t got a mum to ask ‘what was I like as a baby’? or ‘how should I do the feeding’?’ or ‘what are your tips’?
“Seeing their friends with their mums and grandmas can be challenging for them. It brings up new grief.”
The group is one of four the JBCS runs. Others include Aftershock, supporting bereaved young adults.
Stepping Stones helps people aged between 40 and 60 who have lost a
You could share in the feeling of being robbed of your parent ’ Rachel