Niamh was just seven-years-old when her nan passed away. She was devastated – nan was a big part of her life and she missed her a lot. With the support of Karen though – one of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice’s child bereavement counsellors – Niamh had someone she could share her feelings with. With Karen’s help, Niamh was able to discuss her emotions and was able to cope with the heartbreak that comes with grief.
What can I tell you about my nan? Well she was beautiful, funny, kind, and just incredibly generous. I used to love stopping round hers every Tuesday, where we’d eat lots of sweets, watch films together and do other fun things that grandparents like to do. Nan was our rock – she was always there for my mum, my brother and me.
So when she passed away, I was completely heartbroken. I remember feeling really shaken and still expected my mum to say things like “oh, you’re staying at your nan’s tonight” or “don’t forget your nan’s coming over later”. But of course that didn’t happen. I felt like a part of me was missing and it really knocked my confidence. I was so upset that I would never see my nan again.
I first met Karen from Birmingham St Mary’s shortly after. She came round to our house and at first, I hardly knew she was a counsellor. We just sat together and played this really nice game about how the sun comes up and starts afresh every day. I instantly felt safe with her and really enjoyed her company.
After that visit, I started going to the hospice every week to see Karen. I loved visiting her. We would sit together – just the two of us – and we would talk and play games. We would also draw pictures and do lots of crafts, which reminded me of nan because that’s something we loved doing together too.
It was so lovely to talk about my nan with someone and remember all our happy memories. I remember her favourite colour was blue, so I put together a big memory book called “Nanny Lived in a Blue World”. I drew lots of things that were blue in that book, like the sea, which felt lovely because I know nan loved the seaside very much. I’ve got lots of happy memories of going to the beach with her, eating ice creams and spending time together.
Having Karen’s support really helped me to build up my confidence again. She was always there for me and made me feel secure and happy once again. It felt good to have someone I could talk to who wasn’t part of my family – it meant we could talk about anything we wanted without anyone jumping to conclusions.
Five years later and it’s nice to know that Birmingham St Mary’s is still there whenever I need them. Whether I’ve had a bad day at school or I’m just really missing nan, I know Karen and the team are there for me. It’s comforting to know that I will always have someone I can talk to, someone who relates to me and understands what I’m going through.
When nan passed away, I felt like the biggest part of my life had gone, like someone had taken away a piece of my jigsaw puzzle. But now, with Birmingham St Mary’s help, I’ve found an extra jigsaw piece, helping to put my broken puzzle back together again.
Our team of specialist counsellors and volunteers are here to offer support to you and your children during the time of illness and after someone dies. To find out more about our children’s service, take a read here.