You can't have missed the fact that Christmas is around the corner. Like me, you're probably reminded of it every time you pop to the shops or turn on the TV. And in the adverts, everyone always seems to be having a happy family time. That ideal of joy and togetherness can make the pain and loneliness that comes with grief all the more difficult at Christmas.
I've been a Cruse Bereavement Volunteer for over 20 years, so I'm aware that Christmas can be a challenging time, when people can feel the absence of a loved one most acutely. This Christmas, please help to show someone who is struggling to cope with grief that they are not alone - that they can call our Cruse helpline.
Our helpline is busier than ever at this time of year. Last year alone over Christmas, we received hundreds of calls. So my family understand why I give up time with them over the holidays, because there are people like Stella who need me more.
Stella's first Christmas without her daughter, Laura, was in her own words, unbearable.
When Laura, Stella's daughter and only child, died unexpectedly at the age of just 30, Stella had to keep going for her grandson, Blake. He was just six months old when he lost his mum.
All the hopes I had for Laura, of seeing her with her son as he grew up, you are waiting for all that and it's taken from you. Everything comes crashing at you. You don't just think of the person as they were when they died. You think of your whole life together and all you have lost.
It was when Stella broke down at her doctors that she was recommended to Cruse and called our helpline. Following that call, Stella was able to get face-to-face support at her local Cruse centre. And without our vital support, Stella doubts that she would have been able to continue to function and give her grandson the care he needed.
You get to the point where you are functioning like a robot really. My Bereavement Volunteer made me realise that it's okay to have a bad day and gave me the permission to feel sad, scream and cry my eyes out when I felt I needed to. I really don't think I would have been able to cope without Cruse.
Now my grandson is three, and I am so privileged to be able to tell him all about his mum and make her a whole person to him. To be able to do things with him that I know his mother would've loved to do. So when you give a gift to Cruse, you are not just helping one person, you're helping a whole family. You are helping people to carry on with their lives.
Cruse's Caring at Christmas campaign aims to raise £15,000 which is the cost of keeping the Cruse helpline open over the crucial eleven days of the festive season. Because of your gift, someone struggling to cope will be able to talk to us about all the sadness and pain they don't want to burden friends and family with. A Cruse Bereavement Volunteer like me, with specialist grief support training, will be there to listen for as long as they need. And that phone call might be a very important step towards helping a caller get more support, just as Stella did.
So please, donate today. Thank you so much for caring this Christmas.
With warm wishes,
Susan Turner, Bereavement Volunteer - Cruse Bereavement Care