Catriona was 12 years old when her dad died of a heart attack, just two days before Christmas.

The impact of her dad’s death took a great toll on Catriona’s mental health. She recalls that both the event itself and the funeral were frightening for her as a young person, and she describes herself as being in a very dark place.

After a few months, Catriona’s mum discovered that Cruse Scotland could offer support to her daughter. At first, Catriona was very nervous about attending bereavement support sessions. She felt that the reality of losing her dad had not yet sunk in. However, with the support of her mum, combined with the skills of Cruse volunteer, John, she began to trust in the process.

Catriona, now 17, explains, “Talking with John helped me realise that I was going to be okay. Something big and dark happened in my life but I learnt that there would be light in my life again. There would be good days to come and I would have a future.

 “Looking back, I never understood what grief was doing to me and talking with John helped me process everything.

 “Cruse supported me at a time when no-one else could. Meeting with John was a safe space where I could share anything about what was going on in my life. I now appreciate how important that was.”

 Catriona met regularly with John for about a year initially. She returned for a few sessions a year later and even now finds it a comfort to know support is available if she needs it. 

Catriona recently used her heart-breaking experience to advocate for better mental health support in schools. Her powerful essay won her Scotland’s BBC Young Reporter of the Year for 2020.