Janet and her husband Charlie were married in 1981. Twenty-one years later, aged just 51, Charlie was diagnosed with a brain tumour and, within a month, he had died.
“Charlie had two brain tumours but we didn’t know until very late on,” says Janet. “He thought he was having a breakdown. There were huge changes in his personality and he wasn’t making sense. Before that Charlie had always been healthy, never had any illness and never been in hospital.”
With only a month to absorb what had happened, Janet says she was left feeling ‘numb’.
“I didn’t know where I was and how I was going to go on – but I knew I had to go on, as I had a 14 year old daughter, as well as three step-children,” she explains.
Charlie worked in the pub and restaurant trade and the home the couple was living in at the time came with his job which, effectively, left Janet homeless as well – although Charlie’s employers told her to take the time she needed to adjust and find somewhere else.
Janet was struggling to come to terms with her husband’s death, while supporting her family. Inside, she was falling to pieces. It was then that a phone call came from ellenor – which had supported Charlie and his family at the end of his life - offering counselling support.
“I am naturally quite independent and reluctant to let anybody help but I went along and found that counselling gave me the space to offload and process my feelings,” Janet says. “I got on really well with my counsellor and started to really depend on our weekly meetings. As the time went on, I realised I was really benefitting from the counselling sessions.”
Counsellors at ellenor help people cope with grief and pain, and adjust to life without their loved one. For Janet it was a chance to express her bottled-up emotions and come to terms with the devastating and sudden loss.
“It was a very difficult time,” says Janet. “I really couldn’t face each new day and counselling gave me something to get out of bed for. It gave me focus and enabled me to talk about Charlie’s death. I don’t know what I would have done without it to be honest.”
Janet’s experience of counselling was so profound that she was inspired to train as a counsellor herself and now works at ellenor, helping other families through their grief.
“I had counselling for a few months and, during that process, I decided that I wanted to become a counsellor,” Janet explains. “I was so grateful for the chance that I had to have some counselling, it helped me so much, and I wanted to give something back by becoming a counsellor myself.”