Liz’s Story

Liz is a volunteer counsellor and has been supporting bereaved people on the telephone throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here she shares more about her volunteering. 

“I’m very proud to be a volunteer counsellor for St Catherine’s

Fifteen years ago my husband died from an undiagnosed brain tumour, I was 37 years old and had three young children. I was totally devastated, lost and in shock. I had very little family support and the world seemed an overwhelming, frightening place

I was lucky enough to be offered bereavement counselling from a hospice which was life changing for both myself and my children.  It help me see that life can go on even though your life-path has changed out of all recognition. With the help from my bereavement counsellor I was able to see that although the path had changed it didn’t mean your life adventure have to end as well.

Ten years later as my children were growing up and becoming more independent I reflected on starting a new career

One that would enable me to use my life experiences to hopefully help others who found themselves in a similar situation.

I signed up to a part time, three year Transactional Analysis Counselling course which would enable me to become a psychotherapeutic counsellor. I found the course enlightening and the new adventure had begun.

During my clinical year two the lead for the Patient and Family Support Team at the hospice at that time, came to the college and explained about the work that the volunteer student counsellors do. I signed up straight away and was lucky enough to be offered an interview. I waited for a couple of weeks before I was given the happy news that I had been offered a placement to work at St Catherine’s.

The four weekend training course started in March 2018, and what an incredible course that was

I was and am still so impressed with the level of excellence that these courses offer. The insight into illness and bereavement is amazing and I remembered how this had made me feel all those years ago.

Over the next two years I’ve proudly worked with the most incredible people. This includes patients, their families, clients, and of course, the wonderful hospice team

My work consists of either 6 to 9 weeks of 50 minute counselling sessions

These sessions used to be face to face in Oxted , but since the COVID restrictions I now work from home and offer telephone sessions. This has been a challenge as I’ve had to hone another set of skills, being able to really hear not just the words, but tones of voice and also the silences. Being able to walk alongside these clients during truly traumatic times exaggerated by the restrictions of lockdown, which prevents them from even getting a hug from family and friends at a time when they most needed it.

I’m truly honoured to spend time with these very brave and strong people. I’m always touched by people’s life stories and how individual and unique everyone’s life has been

In my calls I hear how important the hospice is, as each day it provides endings for people in the best possible way, with respect, care and compassion. I hear how, through the pandemic, the medical team have carried on providing this incredible service. I thought of everyone at the hospice every Thursday night when I stood on my doorstep and clapped.

I’m constantly impressed by the feeling of warmth and empathy that is shown to everyone

From the minute you step in the front door at the hospice or even when someone answers your telephone call. The Patient and Family Support Team at the hospice are a joy to work alongside.

After two years and around 200 hours of student counselling I took my counselling exam

I was elated when I received the news I’d passed. It’s allowed me to start my new career, and I’ve decided that the hospice is an extremely important place for me, and I’ll continue to volunteer for them as long as they need me.

I know that I’m not on my own in the way I feel about the hospice.”

Our Stories

Hear from our patients, their relatives, our staff and volunteers about the care of St Catherine’s Hospice.

Or for even more stories, updates and news from St Catherine’s Hospice, why not have a read of our biannual Matters magazine?

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