Recently, three ladies became Widowed Young Support Befrienders to help others going through the pain of the untimely loss of a partner.

Here are their stories.

Gwen

My husband died suddenly in 2014 after collapsing while out running. My children were ten and twelve at the time and I threw myself into focussing on them and helping them through their grief. Many people told me that I also needed to address my own grief, but I didn’t know how!

I did gain friendships and informal support via other widow groups and a few years later I discovered Care for the Family. When I felt able to leave my children for a weekend in 2019, I attended a Widowed Young Support residential weekend in Woking.

Although I was a little further on my journey than many of the people there, I found the weekend really helpful. I made friends, could talk openly, get advice, understand better the journey I had already travelled and was appreciative of being able to spend a little time with a Care for the Family counsellor too. The other thing I gained from that weekend was discovering that the befriender role existed.

After coming away from that weekend, I really felt that being a befriender was something I could do. I felt my own experience of bereavement, and the informal support I was already giving to widows I had connected with, would enable me to support others in this way.

With training from Care for the Family, I was then ready to become part of the Widowed Young Support team. I am looking forward to getting started and I’m grateful that I can now help make other people’s journey a little more bearable. Care for the Family, what an amazing organisation!

Doreen

It’s been eight years since my husband died suddenly. I was at a loss, his death was so unexpected. I felt so alone. It was as if no one else knew how I felt. There were lots of people around me who loved and cared for me, but they didn’t understand the depth of my grief. I knew they meant well, but I felt so tearful, so isolated and so alone.

Everything at that time was a blur. I can’t remember how I managed to find the phone number for Care for the Family, but I did and I received a warm compassionate response. For a number of months I was able to talk to a friend on the other end of the phone. She listened, we talked – there was no judgement, just an understanding person who knew what I was going through. I finally stopped feeling like I was the only one who had lost someone so close to me.

I trained to be a befriender with Care for the Family so that I might have the chance to help someone else feel like they aren’t alone.

Cat

In September 2012 my husband Dan and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in Rome. We talked about our four kids and planned what other city breaks we’d love to do for other special occasions. Fast forward six weeks and I’m being told by a doctor that my Dan, age just thirty-three, had a life-changing bleed on his brain that he wouldn’t recover from. After a week of being in an induced coma he was pronounced dead.

It was now me and my four children aged three, five, seven and eight, and this new life sentence called grief. I survived the first months with the support of family and friends in the knowledge that my kids needed me to keep going.

Sadly a friend lost her husband six months after Dan died. For both of us, having someone to talk to who also really understood the pain of grief was so essential. In my second year of widowhood I decided to see a Cruse counsellor, who also worked for Care for the Family. She recommended I go on a residential Widowed Young Support weekend, which my friend and I did in November 2014.

I so needed this weekend. Although it was hard to leave the children, I needed to give time for me to process some of my grief. I spent a lot of the weekend crying, which was much needed! It was such a safe and loving environment, surrounded by the Widowed Young Support team who knew exactly what I was feeling.

I believed that one day I would like to become a befriender, so that I might be able to be a listening ear for other people who have been widowed young. Recently, after being a listening support for a friend going through tough challenges, I realised that I was ready and resilient enough to help others. So, I have now trained to be a Care for the Family Widowed Young Support Befriender.

Find out more about our Widowed Young Support telephone befriending service.

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