Bereavement Counsellor Ewan shares his experience of grief at Christmas. 

"I did not forget the help that Cruse Scotland gave and in my own journey of studying Counselling I took the opportunity of becoming a volunteer."

November 28, 2022

Ewan Irvine has volunteered with Cruse Scotland for one year as a bereavement counsellor in the Edinburgh area and shares his personal experience of grief and some of the common feelings many bereaved people may feel at Christmas time.

My first introduction to Cruse Scotland was in late 1980’s. My father died in 1987 and my mother was widowed at the age of 49.  

The first Christmas was tough.  How do you enjoy Christmas when your husband has died? How do you enjoy Christmas when the father of your children has died?

In a way, you want the world to stop and try and have time to make sense of events that have happened and a future that seems uncertain. There is almost a sense of being on some sort of autopilot, with grief and the emotions that go with it at the forefront. Any sense of normality, never mind thoughts around celebrations like Christmas bring about many feelings; loneliness, guilt, fear, depression and more.  

And watching people enjoy themselves makes the situation worse as you feel you should be doing the same, but grief has the habit of stopping this. And although people say, “time is a healer,” it seems that life will never be the same.  

My mother went through all of the above and Christmas, the first anniversary of my father’s death, his birthday etc only seemed to swell the feelings.  

My mother was referred to Cruse Scotland at a time where she was deeply depressed and met with a Counsellor who gradually helped her to make sense of her feelings and show that the journey ahead could be a happy one.    

The sessions helped her to see life in a different way and coupled with joining a bereavement group with Cruse Scotland, where she met others in a similar situation. This was where friendships were born. My mother used to say that she had felt out of place, everything she used to go to with my father was now attended on her own. She had withdrawn from that social scene and the new friendships born through Cruse Scotland gave her new interests and a new outlook. 

I remember a while later my mother saying that she was not a 100% happy, but she was content.  

Many of these friendships my mother made lasted right through to when she passed with Dementia seven years ago. I still keep in touch with a couple of these friends.  

But I did not forget the help that Cruse Scotland gave and in my own journey of studying Counselling I took the opportunity of becoming a volunteer. 

I have now had to make that journey on my own life since my mother died and events like Christmas are difficult.  

But, I always recall the words of a lecturer I had at College when studying Counselling and he would always say “Be kind to yourself.”  

The work of Cruse Scotland is invaluable. People can naturally expect that a number of months later a person should be over their grief. In fact, many put on a brave face and say, “I am fine”, but in reality, it is far different. That is where the support of Cruse Scotland comes in and can help make a difference in so many ways.  

Across Scotland, 300,000 children and adults face their first Christmas without a loved one. No one should struggle alone.

A donation of £10 could cover the costs of a one hour call to our Free Bereavement Helpline, keeping this vital lifeline free and accessible to those struggling to cope with their grief. 

Find out more about the services we offer and the bereavement support that’s right for you.

Bereavement Counsellor Ewan shares his experience of grief at Christmas.