Julie Mirfin and her husband Stephen had just celebrated their 30thwedding anniversary last summer when the time came for Stephen to be admitted to St Michael’s. He had pancreatic cancer and knew he didn’t want to die at home. ‘On the Saturday morning we jointly made the decision that it was time,’ said Julie. ‘He was admitted that lunchtime and died the following morning.’

Stephen’s death came just six weeks after Julie had lost her dad. Yet within a short period of time, the acceptance of an offer of counselling set her on a path out of darkness. ‘Both deaths came at a time when Covid meant I couldn’t see friends and family,’ she said. ‘I was offered counselling by St Michael’s and thought I would give it a go. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.’

Julie admits she was apprehensive at first, but this soon disappeared. ‘I quickly became very comfortable. In fact, I looked forward to my Monday phone call. The conversations have had such a positive effect on me. They helped me feel as though a weight had been lifted. ‘I was able to put my week’s troubles into a metaphorical bucket, which I emptied during our chats.’

Julie says her confidence has grown because she has been able to express her feelings to others, including family members, which she would never have previously done. ‘Before, I had never any reason to talk about my feelings to anyone other than Stephen. I feel I can talk about my grief to anyone now. It’s certainly changed my perception about counselling. I want to tell the world that everyone should receive it. I’m not sure I would have gone looking for it, but I was offered it and I’m so glad I took it.’

Julie’s new-found confidence has even extended to writing poetry (see below). And although her counselling sessions are winding down, her connection to St Michael’s won’t stop. ‘I owe so much to the Hospice. The counselling has been so positive and now I feel I’m ready to say thank you by volunteering as a Homemaker. I just want to do something which will, in a small way, help someone else.’

*To find out more about the Bereavement Support provided by St Michael’s Hospice, call 01432 851 000 or click here https://www.st-michaels-hospice.org.uk/our-care/bereavement-support/

Someone to Talk To
By Julie Mirfin

Do I need a counsellor, how do I know

But I thought, could give it a  go

It gave me space to clear my head

As on this journey I began to tread

All my thoughts, fears and woes

Now being shared with someone who knows

Daily the bucket with emotions filled

Till on Monday they could all be spilled

Tipped it up and wiped it clean

Then the future could be seen

On the way lots of tears

Start to take away the fears

Because I could share all of my heart

Me and Stephen are never apart

Because our love could be shared

They know so well how much we cared

Somehow this seems a long time ago

But there is something I do know

My love for Stephen will never end

Even though I am on the mend

Life is getting better I’ve made new friends

This is a story that never ends

I trust my feelings, know how to cope

and in my life there is hope

So I did need a counsellor, yes I know

This is how I learnt to glow