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How counselling (and Paul Simon) helps me grieve for the death of my parents

Recommended listening – Graceland – Paul Simon (4:52)

The death of both my mum and dad has at times, prompted bouts of indescribable, uncontrollable grief.

But, here’s the thing; when grief first knocked at my door, almost 20 years after my mum had died, it arrived so quickly, and with such power, that I hadn’t even had time to set the table.

I had no anchor. No framework of understanding. No counsel.

Bereavement and the importance of making a financial plan

One minute I was ticking along nicely, the next moment a wave of such paralysing emotion arrived that I felt certain I was either going mad or dying or both.

Struggling to breathe? Tick. Crying hysterically and uncontrollably on the living room floor? Tick. SOS call to your sister at Waterloo station because you are so consumed by emotion that you cannot physically move? Double tick.

So, why, 20 years after the death of my mum, did grief finally come for tea, eat all my party food, and then hang around for the after eights?

music helped me to deal with the grief of the death of my parents

My story

My mum died when I was 21 years old. She had been ill for some time. I remember standing by her grave with my dad and my sister wanting desperately to cry – straining every sinew to shed tears – but all I felt was numb. In the years after her death, I don’t recall speaking about her – this is not a critique of my dad and sister – it’s just we didn’t know how – we hadn’t been prepared.

losing love is like a window in your heart, everybody sees you’re blown apart, everybody sees the wind blow

Paul Simon, Graceland

The window in my heart had been triple glazed, overlaid with bulletproof glass, with some shutters bolted on for good measure. It needed a trigger to blow them wide-open, and that came through a slow, and painful breakup with my then, long-term girlfriend.

The end of life pathway with my Dad

The relationship eventually ended. But the grieving for the death of that relationship and my mum had just started (cheery stuff Nick, keep it coming!)

It turns out that drinking large volumes of strong, European, continental lager DOES NOT! make you sleep better, and IT DOES! heighten anxiety levels and lower your capacity to cope.

I also tried everything from the nonsense of ‘man up and get on with it’ to ‘just do some exercise! – park-life!)

It is fair to say that as male, lager drinking, football loving, meat and two veg kind-a-guy that paying money to speak to someone about ‘issues’ was the last thing on my list…..but….I was still anxious, still lost, and I needed help.

Counselling helped me….

Going to see a counsellor was a game-changer for me. The sense of space and freedom to explore my story and how I was feeling.  It gave me an anchor. A framework of understanding.  A counsel who I could call on when times felt tough.

I’ve used counselling services many times since – most recently when my dad died. I knew that he only had months to live, so in the last few days of his life, I called a counsellor (as part of my benefits package at work – brilliant to see so many companies have these services now) and I got the sessions booked in.

Speak with someone. It’s the best return on investment you’ll ever make.

Counselling has allowed me to process, to share, to anchor my love and memories in a positive way; My mum and Dad both loved Paul Simons music. So, when I want to connect, I put the needle on the record, and let my mind drift to memories of love and warmth– to moments in the car, driving through France on holiday, where the light seemed to shine endlessly through the sunroof, (remember them!), where we are a gang of four again.

driving in france

Helping others has always been important to me. So, when my dad died six years ago, I moved into the world of coaching – initially as a tennis coach, and then latterly, as a financial coach.

I am now privileged to spend my days working alongside a team of Chartered financial planners – helping guide people through key life moments and connecting their wealth to their purpose so that they can move on to the next chapter with clarity and freedom.  .

If you want to chat about how we can help, Book a conversation with me here!

Thank you to Nick Heath of Capital Asset Management for this very honest and open blog. Find out more in The Hug Directory

Nick Heath of Capital Asset Management

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