Meet our Online Bereavement Counsellors, Ksenia and Kim

02 Mar 2022

Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Counsellors Ksenia and Kim support people coping with grief through our Online Counselling Service. In this blog, they share how they support clients navigating through life and relationships after a bereavement, and explain why it's so crucial that Sue Ryder have put grief at the forefront of their work.

Ksenia started in 2020, with 14 years experience in the sector

Ksenia wanted to work from home in order to spend more time with her family and help with childcare. She works 24 hours a week with Sue Ryder, and the rest of the week as a piano teacher.

She sees parallels between her two jobs as well. “It’s about listening. You have to be in tune with the music, or with the person!”

You find a way to connect, allowing them space to tell their story, and share the pain, then move forward.

She embraces the unique challenges of working with loss and trauma, and says it is “a difficult moment in a client’s story. You have to slow down and depict little things.” She continues, “You work with every client in a unique way. You can’t predict what will happen next. You’re always on your toes, which is what I love!”

“Counselling is about gut feeling; you have to listen to yourself and the connection between mind and body.” Though it can be challenging, Ksenia says: “When you see how clients are at assessment, or in their first session, and then you find a way to work and connect with them, allowing them space to tell their story, and share the pain, and then move forward, there’s a real feeling of achievement.”

Putting grief at the forefront

She has been really pleased to see Sue Ryder putting grief at the forefront of their campaigns, with the launch of Grief Kind earlier this year. “I love the way Sue Ryder is taking grief and running with it. Grief Kind is amazing. I’m introducing it to all my clients.”

Ksenia says that opening up can be extremely difficult for many people. “How do we talk about death? How do we connect with other people? We need to make grief a normal conversation.”

Kim started in 2021 after 20 years as a trained therapist

The free online counselling service has proved very popular since Kim joined last year. “I’ve got three new clients starting tomorrow!” she exclaims. “Their journey with me begins at the first session. We look at goals and what they want the focus of the sessions to be.”

Sue Ryder provides six sessions to each client. “You have to make sure that these are used for what’s important to them,” says Kim.

The most important thing is building a relationship, to enable them to feel safe, and be on that journey together.

There are always common themes, she explains, “but you might find with the loss of a parent, they might want to look at guilt, for example. Or with the loss of a partner, just focus on coping day to day. There’s lots of different pieces, like a puzzle you need to put back together.”

“The most important thing is building a relationship, to enable them to feel safe, and for you to be on that journey together.”

“It’s really wonderful to see the process work. To see someone start raw, overwhelmed, not managing and when you end they’re coping differently and more resilient, it’s very rewarding.”

And while some people, such as those who have experienced a difficult bereavement, may think that they might need more than six sessions, Kim explains that it’s surprising how much can be achieved in a relatively short space of time. “One client asked ‘What can you do in that time?’ But she was amazed at the difference it made, and how much better she was coping.”

Ultimately, Kim says, it’s “not fixing it, but supporting them on that grief journey. We are a very small part of it.”

Support when people need it

The fact that the service is provided free of charge is also a crucial factor in making it accessible to a diverse range of people.

One client told Kim, “I want to thank Sue Ryder because my doctor said it would be a nine month wait for counselling, and I couldn’t afford to go private. Sue Ryder were there at the point when I needed it.”

Opening up about death and grief

Like Ksenia, Kim believes very strongly in opening up the conversation around death and grief in the UK. “We don’t talk enough about death,” she says. Her counselling sessions are important for “normalising thoughts and feelings. For example guilt, anxiety, what if and if only questions - they’re all okay.”

“We need to raise awareness that it’s okay to talk about death,” she continues. “People will sometimes cross the street to avoid talking to people who are grieving, but it’s okay if you don’t know what to say.”

Often, open communication can really help. “Talk to your loved ones about their wishes. I’ve got bereavement leaflets in the car, in case I meet someone that needs information. My children find it embarrassing, but I talk about it with my mum in a light-hearted way. I wouldn’t have felt able to do that 20 years ago.”

Online Bereavement Counselling Service

You are not alone. If you’re struggling with grief, our Online Bereavement Counselling service offers free and professional video support.

Find out more about Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support which includes our Online Bereavement Community as well as support and advice about bereavement and grief.

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