My mum, the inspiration for Counselling4Carers

After an eye opening conversation with a friend a couple of days ago where we talked about our passions, inspirations and drives for the work we do I have spent an emotional day reigniting my Counselling4Carers work, I set it up in memory of my mum, Gladys Knott in 2013, and I finally feel in a place where I can really honor her by making this service a working reality. Grief is a unique process and it takes on a different form every time we experience it, and it has taken me this long to feel that I can now commit to this important area of my counselling work. Up until now it has tugged at that hole in my heart where mum resides far too much for me to be able to put my grief to one side in order for me to really support carers who are living with the kind of issues that they need support with. The counselling process is all about the client, and their journey, and I believe it would have been unethical for me to really develop this until I was in a place where I could dedicate myself to the work in a way that kept myself and those carers I work with emotionally safe and supported.

mum and my brother Tim
My mum – my inspiration

I lost my mum to kidney failure in January 2013 after a long period of illness and multiple health issues not least of which was her stroke in February 2012 which left her unable to open her eyes, so not although technically blind she was as good as, even with the strips of micropore we used to keep her eyelids open so she could only see for short periods of time. The stroke damaged her nerve supply to the muscles of her eyes and eyelids so her eyes could see but appeared to hate each other and look in opposite directions when they were held open. This led to mum feeling sea sick and confused, so we had to alternate them so she could see at least for a little while however blurry it was, it was better than the eternal darkness she had been experiencing. But throughout this she remained strong and calm, initially at least never resenting the hand god had dealt her, just accepting of the fact that this was her new reality. She was inspirational and I miss her every day, but I know she will be proud of my life path since she passed away. She had multiple health issues that made her care particularly difficult, including Addision’s disease, COPD and severe arthritis (she had been on a waiting list for a new hip for over 4 years when she died but had never been well enough to survive the procedure).

Her blindness did leave her anxious about being alone in the house, understandable in the circumstances really and I became pretty much house bound alongside her, I ended up ordering all our groceries online so she didn’t have to fret while I was gone. The only time that she actively encouraged me to leave the house or actually leave her side was whenever I needed to see a counselling client or when I was manning the open line for my local branch of Cruse (helping support the bereaved).

I was already qualified when my mum had her stroke in 2012 and had a small private practice. She always supported my desire to help others and I believe it was because it reflected her own life’s mission. The one major regret I know she had was she had wanted to be a missionary in Israel but married and had myself and my two older brothers, by the time we were grown up enough my father was so unwell that she was not able to leave for any great length of time she did manage a week out there for a visit and it was one of her finest and most precious memories. My father died when he was only 65 which in an ideal world would have allowed my mum to follow her dream even for a few months or years but sadly she had her first stroke 4 weeks before he died, which although she recovered from really well, left her unable to fly and along with her own previous health complications her dreams of being a missionary died too. mum and sam

Now although she never actually did missionary work in the way she wished to, she touched so many lives with her infinite compassion and her ability to forgive and forget without judgment or resentment, (and there had been a lot to forgive within our family and my parents work but that’s a story for another day). As the vicar said in his eulogy she was a missionary in her own right leading by example and throughout her life touching many more souls than she was ever aware of. She was always a quiet woman who often listened and observed without any superfluous words or inane or irrelevant comments, but she touched so many peoples lives with her gentle advice and her naturally calming persona. I am in awe of her and the more I reflect back about her life which was by no means simple or pain or fear free the more I admire her.

So I believe she saw what I was doing as a continuation of her passion for helping others, I am her legacy and I aim to use her example as a constant bench mark for me to work towards. So once again I dedicate this area of my work to my mum, Mrs Gladys Knott you will always be in my heart.

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I have also set up a Bereaved Carers Support Group and aim to run support groups locally in the very near future