There was an interesting interview with Amanda Holden in today’s Observer that’s set me thinking. In it she says that she’d like to see more grief counselling available on the NHS and she states the fact that many parents aren’t offered counselling until after two weeks following the death of their child.
When we left the hospital, shattered and armed with a bundle of leaflets we were told that someone would be in touch. The leaflets informed us that we would be contacted by a family support officer who would be able to support us in the options for grief counselling. It was obviously Christmas time so things were a bit busy (as we quickly got used to being told by the various people we had to deal with) we waited to see in what guise this support would come. Nothing happened. Not after two weeks and not after three months.
Instead of being offered help and support to deal with such a huge and unexpected loss we were left to our own devices. Thankfully we have amazing friends and family who were of tremendous support from early on and continue to be now. They came immediately and let us talk and talk about our boy and our feelings. I feel as though this was better than a meeting with a stranger who never knew my boy when he was alive, but really I’ll never know. I think about the people who aren’t as lucky as me with their friends and people who lose their loved ones and have nobody else. What the hell are they supposed to do?
In the days when people regularly lost children they were expected to suck it up. Stiff upper lip, move on with their lives, don’t mention it. I can’t stress enough that I don’t feel counselling in the traditional sense would’ve helped me but nobody knew that at the time, they didn’t sit me down and assess my capacity for pain and grief. They didn’t audit how many friends and family I had and how compassionate they’d be. Instead I was sent home without my boy but with lots of helpful leaflets full of empty promises and out of date information.