CRUSE Scotland’s army of volunteers are there to listen to, support and help people who have been bereaved, says Stewart Wilson.
IT is often referred to as the one of life’s greatest certainties. Death – and the grief it brings – is bound to touch us all at some point.
But while we will all face loss, how we cope with it, how it affects us and the lasting imprint it leaves upon us, is different for every single one of us.
Between 2012 and 2014 more than 12,500 people died in Edinburgh. Of those 12,500 losses, research shows that around 4000 people left behind struggled with emotional or behavioural difficulties as a result.
Yet in an age where we talk openly about just about anything that’s going on in our lives, how much money we’ve got , how much debt we’re in, how much sex we have, grief, bereavement and death somehow remain the ultimate taboo.
Instead we might bottle up our feelings or express our hurt in a myriad of ways; we may become “down”, stressed, angry or unbearably sad. We may struggle for years.
For some, grief may surface unexpectedly, perhaps when they watch a distressing soap opera storyline, such as the recent Eastenders episodes featuring the death of central character Peggy Mitchell.
Or when they follow a distressing news story – who couldn’t be moved by the terrible case of toddler Liam Fee, for example?
This year our Edinburgh branch is marking 50 years of helping local people through their grief. In the past three years alone, they have supported around 1500 people, including dozens of children.
They are part of Cruse Scotland’s network of 350 dedicated volunteers, who see every day how grief can affect relationships, lead to time off work and in some cases can spark destructive and harmful behaviour such as drug and alcohol abuse.
Particularly disturbing is research that shows some 28 per cent of young people who commit suicide, have been bereaved. It’s also recognised that many of the young men and women in our prisons have experienced the loss of at least one significant figure in their lives.
This is Volunteers’ Week (1-12 June) when even more than usual Cruse Scotland is conscious of the amazing work carried out by its helpers in the Edinburgh area.
They listen, support and help. Most of all, they are there to help others to talk.
• Stewart Wilson is chief executive of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland, Scotland’s bereavement charity. For support and information about volunteering, contact Cruse Scotland’s national helpline on 0845 600 2227