Hospice helps bereaved mum

Date Published: 27th April 2017

“The biggest comfort I gained from counselling was being able to accept that it was normal to feel and think like this."

On Sunday 8th November 2015, Andrew Nathan Hodgson took his life in the midst of his struggle to cope. Unprepared for the agonising heartache that comes in the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide, Andrew’s wife Victoria tried her best to put her and her children's lives back together.

During a difficult first year without Andrew, Victoria received Bereavement Counselling at Teesside Hospice to help her through the grieving process. Now she shares her story to tell others about the service which helped her come to terms with her loss.

Victoria said “I first met Andrew when I was 19. He had this amazing smile and cheeky charm, I felt lucky to have him. As a passionate Health and Safety worker, Andrew really valued his job at SSI. He lived life to the full and wore his heart on his sleeve. He had a great circle of friends; he knew everyone and had such an out-going personality.”

“Andrew and I were together for 13 years and were blessed to have two beautiful children, Maddie, now aged 13, and Oliver, aged 5. Andrew absolutely loved his kids!”

“On Sunday 8th November 2015, our lives were turned upside down. Without any explanation Andrew took his own life – it was a complete shock.”

“All I could do was scream. Time stood still, I wasn’t in my own body, I felt numb, it was too much to take in. As I cried, trying to comprehend what had happened, I just kept asking why have you left the children? It was the most painful day of my life...”

From that day forward Victoria focused all of her energy on her children, ensuring that they were ok and coping with the loss of their Dad. She had heard about the Bereavement Counselling Service at Teesside Hospice through social media and decided to make an appointment to see if the Hospice could support the children in any way.

Victoria said “At first I wasn’t fully aware that the service was for anybody, no matter what kind of bereavement. The first counselling session was for my daughter Maddie, yet by the end of the appointment it was clear that I was the one who needed to talk – I just hadn’t realised it. After Andrew’s passing I was on autopilot. I just wanted to protect my kids and make sure they were ok, but it was me that wasn’t ok.”

“In the initial sessions I felt relieved – I could just sit there, cry and tell my counsellor Sara every single thing about me and Andrew, from the day we met to the day we parted. Sara’s skills as a professional are outstanding. She encouraged me to talk even about the tiniest of things; they all mattered, every emotion I was feeling whether it was sad, angry, annoyed, guilt or blame.”

“The biggest comfort I gained from counselling was being able to accept that it was normal to feel and think like this. It was a traumatic experience, but the world and life doesn’t stop after death. As survivors we have to keep going, it’s the one thing that validates the whole process of suicide, to keep going and not stop. We need to live the rest of our lives, whilst adapting to it never being the same again.”

“The children haven’t received counselling, but they know that when they’re ready to talk Teesside Hospice will be there for them. This reassured Maddie in particular and helped confirm her feelings of not being ready to open up right now, and how this was a normal feeling for someone of a young age.”

“Bereavement Counselling at Teesside Hospice has turned my life around, which is why I am passionate about reaching out and helping others come forward who are grieving from suicide and just need to talk.”

“We will never get the answers we crave for when bereaved by suicide, it’s a taboo subject. Suicide is still an illness; it’s an act of self, which only that person knows why. The black hole it leaves the bereaved is incomprehensible. I want other people who may be going through the grieving process from suicide to please talk; whatever feelings you are experiencing are normal, please don’t be alone in your thoughts. No matter how strong we think we are, we are still human and need to talk.”

Sara Mathews, Head of Bereavement Counselling at Teesside Hospice, said: “Victoria showed tremendous courage in coming to counselling and being willing to face her painful feelings. Over time I watched her give herself permission to live life and move forward, a process which is particularly fraught following death by suicide.”

Victoria added “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of others who have donated in-memory of Andrew and to help others like me. I am delighted to be giving £2,000 to Teesside Hospice’s ‘Forget-Me-Not’ bereavement counselling service, to say thank you and support the amazing work they do.”

If you would like to self-refer or make an enquiry about Bereavement Counselling at Teesside Hospice call 01642 811063 or use the referral form below.

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