BE­REAVE­MENT: HOW TO COPE

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

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

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