Category Archives: Loss

And then it happened to me…

Paula Fowle 23 August 2021

I was on it

Having worked as a counsellor for a long time with a keen interest in bereavement support and anticipated loss support, feeling that I was ‘On it’ and could cope, little did I know!!! Recently my world was tipped upside down when hearing ‘the news that nobody wants to hear’ (see previous blog)

My ‘tailspin’

My dearest friend of very 30 years has been fighting various types of Cancer for the last 15 years, we have been together through scans, treatments, good news and bad. But recently hearing that ‘there was nothing else to be done’ apart from palliative care and ’End of Life Plan’ through me in a tailspin.

Where did all the things that have learnt in my training go?

Sitting in the chair supporting a client over the years has been a privilege, giving support to patients and their families whilst preparing death bed wills to ensure that those last-minute wishes are taken care of, ensuring that what ever can be achieved on the ‘Bucket list’ can be done is taken care of too. Seeing the path of acceptance and that final letting go of life when the patient feels their work here is done.

The patient knows best

I guess one thing that I have learnt during these special journeys is that the patient knows best, the patient is always the one in control, yes, the medication and pain relief help but the final decision to let go belongs to the patient and I know that the journey that my friend and I are on now will be the same.

What does dying feel like?

It is heart breaking watching someone so close slipping away, spending hour after hour in bed, waiting and wondering what is to come next and how it will feel. As we have joked about on many an occasion since the news broke, its not as though you can ring someone up and ask’ hey what does dying feel like?’

Finding the continuing bond

I have searched for things to help and things to make this manageable, but I feel now that there is nothing. I know when the time come it will be hard for me as it has been hard for my clients’ families to see but like them, I will get through it and what I have learnt will stand me in good stead. I just need to confidence to reach out for it and like others learn to create my ‘Continuing bond’

Finding the inspiration

A real inspiration for me has been the book ‘Languages of Loss ‘written by Sasha Bates. In the book Sasha takes the journey to fight with her grief following the sudden death of her Husband. She shares her struggle with her ‘professional self’ and her’ emotional self’. The death brings into question everything she has ever learned and believed would help her clients along the path in their grief journeys but amazingly she gets to a place of peace and understanding and slowly starts finds a way back….

Courage and time

I hope and I know that I will be the same, it will take time, courage but I will always have my memories of all that my Friend, and I have shared, nothing will ever take that away.

On hearing those dreaded words – ‘I am so deeply sorry we have done all that we can’

Paula Fowle 03 August 2021

Hearing the news

How many of us have been in this position, seeing a much-loved family member, a dear friend or colleague heroically fighting illness. Trying cope with every type of medication, treatment and advice thrown at them. To then receive the news that despite attempting every known route possible there is nothing more that the medical teams can do.

This is when the imaginary food mixer in the tummy kicks in!!!

Everyone around us is trying to cope and understand what has been said and what the future holds. none of us like uncertainty.

What are we supposed to do?

Each one of us will react in a different way and it may be hard to understand what others are feeling and saying. There will be a lot of questions that come to mind as together we all search for the answers.

What is the impact on us and those around us?

The impact on a family is huge when such news is received. There may be a lot of uncertainty about how much time is left, who do you need to share this information with. You may feel overwhelmed with fear and sadness.

How do I tell my children, what will they want to know?

If there are children involved each one will want information that they can digest and cope with; their reaction may be difficult for you to understand and leave you feeling more isolated that ever.

You may be wondering who is going to support you.

There will be a lot of questions after hearing the news for the well parent. this can be a real dilemma and a physically and emotionally exhausting time.

One of the hardest parts of all of this may be the disruption of the family routine and the change of roles within the family unit.

If poorly parent is a stay-at-home parent taking care of the children, the family home, and the dog, suddenly this is about to change. Few of us like change at any time but especially not in such circumstances as this.

Who is going to do the school run?

Who is going to do the washing and ironing?

Who gets the dinner and who will walk the dog?

Introduction of Others

The disruption may mean that others are stepping in to help either professionals or other family members or friends.

This may lead to the children feeling vulnerable and unsure possibly displaying actions and talking in a way that you have not been heard before, it is important to remember that everyone is hurting.

We all hurt in our own way, not all of us are able to reach out, some retreat into their shells.

Retreating into our shell

I have the image of a tortoise being unsure of a new route to take and withdrawing his head into their shell. These reactions can be hard to take particularly when you are feeling under pressure to hold things together and be there for everyone else.

The impact on the well parent is huge. The news may leave them confused, both physically and mentally exhausted. Although there may have been a lot of doubt about the future until these words are spoken there is always hope and a place for denying the truth.

Why wouldn’t you?? It is so hard to let go of someone special someone you love isn’t it.? To see the plans, the hopes and the dreams that were made for the future be swept away.

You may well be feeling, yesterday was a happy day … today I am not sure what type of day it is…

It’s all different now suddenly there are feelings of sadness, fear, and anger. There may also be feelings of wanting the suffering to stop but not being able to let go invoking feelings of guilt at ‘choosing the easy way out’.

Reaching out for support

There is no easy way to face such a situation but by seeking support from a Bereavement Counsellor you may feel be able to find your way. You will find acknowledgement in a non-judgemental way of your worries, your fears, and the stress of living with many uncertainties.

Trying to find your strengths … they will still be there

The support offered will give you an open space to communicate the fears and feelings that you may not want to share with others, it will help you to explore your strengths and encourage you to use them. It will give you a place to explore your fears for the future and to celebrate the good times in the past.

Making a plan

The time spent can offer an opportunity to plan what you need to say to your children, you know it will feel uncomfortable and will be distressing, think about what you might want them to know, what questions they might ask, it might be tricky dealing with the questions that come back at you, hopefully some of the time spent with your Counsellor can prepare you for this.

None of us are perfect

The one thing to remember with all of this, is we don’t always get things right. This situation will be different for us all; there is no right or wrong way.

Allow time for the news to sink in. Grant yourself the thinking time. By seeking support for yourself you will find the strength to support those suffering around you too.

A final thought:

Reaching out at a time of loss is the hardest thing to contemplate. A listening ear can offer you a safe place as you try to weather the storm.

See part 2