So, following on from my last post, my training at Helen House has started once again this year. You can read about the beginnings of it here. In our latest session we discussed the differences between open and closed questions - subtle differences in language that make a huge difference when you are trying to actively listen to somebody talking about incredibly difficult subjects. There is always a significant amount of role play during our training and I am having to learn to really think before I speak and use silence constructively. Not easy, I can tell you.
Our group has now been asked how we feel about facilitating workshops for not-so-newly bereaved parents who would like some form of support to continue. I am interested as I really see it as a two-way opportunity for support, both for the people who join us and for myself.
A few weeks ago, I had a letter out of the blue from Tom's Consultant Paediatrician asking me if I would be interested in participating in a training day at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington that was being aimed at teaching all the Paediatric Registrars in London how to support bereaved parents and children. She is a trustee of the Child Bereavement Charity, who will run the lectures. Last week we met for coffee and discussed what would be useful to talk about for about an hour during the lecture. I will be fully supported during my time by a counsellor at St Mary's who I met last week too. My first lecture is on Thursday and I plan to go without notes as I find it easier to talk without having an agenda. I have also said that I am more than happy for it to be open for discussion rather than have to have too much of a script to follow. I will talk about preparation for death and discussions and interactions that took place in the weeks, months and years before. I will also share what I thought was helpful or things that I think could have been done better. I know it's not something that anyone could do and when I have tried to discuss it with friends and family, I get very mixed reactions. But I feel that I can do it and that I need to give it a go. I am trying to find a balance in my life and I think that by using my experiences constructively balances the more frivolous side of my creative life now.
During coffee we also talked about a new government directive called the Child Death Overview Process and I was asked if I would consider being a parent member within our Local Safeguarding Children Board. It is a role that would not be very time-consuming and from what I can gather, I would be required to read through publications from a parent's perspective to make sure that they were not too insensitive. Since 2008, it has been mandatory for every child death to be investigated and I still feel fortunate to this day that I didn't have to go through the agony of having to face Tom having a post-mortem.
Who knows if this is the right or wrong thing for me to be doing now. I feel that unless I try it, I'll never know. It feels incongruous to mention in my space here because I know it is a distressing and sensitive subject to stumble upon amongst the quilting and crochet and baking. But here's the thing: it is the biggest part of my life and no amount of creativity will ever fill the void. In the run-up to Tom's anniversary and birthday that both fall in spring, it feels worthwhile, but I'm nervous and know it will be exhausting. Perhaps it is my way of keeping my darling boy alongside me. Like I could ever forget such a face - there is a serenity to this, one of my favourite photos, that always makes me sigh.
I will be back tomorrow with some borrowed beauty...