Man's hands clasped sitting on sofa

Gareth shares his experience of bereavement counselling following the death of his wife and the difference it has made.

"My wife died of dementia and pneumonia last year. We would have been married for 30 years in January.

Everything was very raw

Not long after she’d died, I went to see my doctor because I was getting very angry and bitter. I was angry at how some people had treated us or avoided us after she was diagnosed with dementia.
Everything was very raw, and I was getting flashbacks from when she was suffering.
My anger was going over and over, and I was at boiling point. I had some suicidal thoughts and knew I needed help. I couldn’t speak to family or friends and I didn’t want anti-depressants – I don’t like taking tablets – and so she recommended Treetops Hospice.
I come from a generation where men didn't talk about their feelings; we’d always put on a front and say ‘we can get through this’, so I’d never thought about counselling before.
Every time I talked to friends, they would say I’d done brilliantly looking after my wife, but I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t look after her for a pat on the back. I wanted to talk about what was haunting me.

I could say exactly what I wanted to say

It was easy to talk to Nina, my counsellor. Someone who didn’t know me or my wife. She didn’t judge me and I could say exactly what I wanted to say – how angry I was - and not feel patronised.
Counselling hasn’t stopped me thinking about the bad times and I still get flashbacks now and then, but it took 95% of my anger issues away.
If I hadn’t had counselling, I think I would have got angrier and angrier and done something silly."

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