A Week in the Life of Bereavement Support Coordinator and Counsellor – Fay Bloor
I have a full day of counselling clients today who I see in the special room that has been created in one of our newest branches, Allestree. It is a lovely, calm space which is ideal for clients to relax and open up about their feelings.
The counselling service is part of the expansion of our Dandelions Bereavement Support Service which was set up by our MD Helen Wathall. Having started at Wathall’s on work experience as a teenager, I was offered a job to train as a funeral arranger and, as part of my progression I helped out at the Grief Journey and Dandelions Support Group sessions. I was also given the opportunity to start training in counselling and hypnotherapy.
My clients’ circumstances are totally unique. Some are recently bereaved and others are still struggling to come to terms with their loss after several years. Whilst grief is the main focus of the sessions, often past life experience impacts how and why people react in various ways, so you never really know what is going to come up in a session and certainly no two days are the same.
I do not have any appointments today, so I shut myself away for a writing and admin day.
I regularly write blogs covering various elements of grief, and many are inspired by snippets of conversations with counselling clients and group members. I have recently written a blog about coming to terms with medical termination of a pregnancy, and this was published on the Counselling Directory website. Today I want to delve deeper into anxiety as part of grief, which is an interesting subject that seems to come up a lot in both the counselling and group sessions.
I’ve really enjoyed getting into writing over the last few years, starting with me writing my first of two grief activity books back in 2020. The two books, one aimed at adults and the other at children, aim to help people work through their emotions and move forward in light of their loss. I’m currently in the earliest stages of drafting my third grief activity book, so watch this space!
I then head off to Derby Rugby Club with my colleague Lynne, to run the evening Dandelions Bereavement Support Group. This is in addition to the two daytime groups which meet monthly in Ashbourne and twice monthly at St Peter’s Church in Derby city centre.
I have set up an Etsy shop from which to sell my workbooks and the sympathy cards I designed a little while ago. So, having received some email orders overnight, I start the day by packaging these up and sending them out.
I’ve also set up a Facebook and Instagram account (@FayBloorBooks) to help raise awareness around my books, as well as being a place to share articles I’ve written, news about my next projects and grief quotes I like. It’s quite important to post at least semi-frequently, so I spend some time this morning creating a ‘reel’ on breaking bad news to children, in the hope that someone somewhere may find it useful. It’s definitely a bit of a learning curve managing social media pages, but I’ve had fun learning how to do certain aspects of it and finding new content to post.
In 2020 we commissioned the Hug After Loss giftboxes which are distributed through a local company, so I drop them a quarterly email to them to see how sales are going. These are a great alternative for people to send flowers to friends and family and they also include our Dandelions grief journal which is a great outlet for the tricky feelings of grief.
On that note, I spend the afternoon at St Peter’s Church delivering the Grief Journey session which is designed to equip those who have suffered a bereavement with the tools, knowledge and a fresh mindset to come to terms with grief and work towards their future. The four-week programme is free of charge and runs six times a year. We meet once a week for a two-hour session that covers how grief affects people, confronting emotions and loneliness.
After a heavy but constructive session, I head off to an aerial hoop class which I love. When you are suspended in the air holding onto a hoop for dear life, you don’t think about anything else, the only downside is the multiple bruises that develop the next day!
After a counselling client first thing, I spend the rest of the morning catching up with some admin work. This includes booking the next trip for our Dandelions members. We recently visited Tatton Park which was fabulous, the next trip will be to Chatsworth at Christmas – always a popular trip as it’s something to look forward to in what is often a difficult month for those that are grieving.
In the afternoon I log on to a webinar that I’m delivering for a large solicitor’s firm, who are keen for their Wills & Probate and Family Law teams to have a greater understanding about grief and bereavement, so that they can better support their clients. Presenting online is certainly out of my comfort zone, I would much rather do this in person, though it’s good to do new things and it means we can reach more people and spread awareness wider. Thankfully it goes well, and I get some positive and constructive feedback which I can use for future training sessions.
I am in the Derby head office today in Macklin Street and, after a meeting about our social media presence, I’m asked by a colleague who is struggling with some personal issues to sit down for a chat. I’m one of Wathall’s three Mental Health First Aiders – a great idea in any workplace, I’d fully recommend the course. I listen to the issues that my colleague is facing, and we talk about their options. Sometimes people just need to be listened to, sometimes they need guiding to find the most appropriate help. As it turned out, one of the groups provided by Derby County Community Trust (of which we are a partner) seemed to fit his needs well, so I passed on the details for him to look into further.
I finish work a little earlier today, having worked through a lunch hour earlier in the week, so it’s time for some last-minute packing (is there any other kind?) for one of many weekends in Whitby, my favourite place to visit without getting on a plane.