Caring, Bereavement and the Liberal Family

I recently suffered a major bereavement, an event that triggered a decline in my health.

Ten years as a carer has taught me that there isn’t much help out there. That still appears to be the case as I try to cope in a very difficult situation.

Bereavement counselling is only available from charities and there is a three-month-long waiting list.

The alternative is the NHS run Talking Therapies which takes you through several hoops before you can even get to speak to a professional counsellor!

All this whilst dealing with the arrangements for the person who has passed away, which there is no preparation or help for.

On a more upbeat note I have experienced the kindness of strangers, a Sudanese Muslim lady I met and chatted with at a community picnic told me that God will have seen the good things that I have done for the person I cared for over those many years.

I am not a religious person but I found comfort in those words.

Through the fog, I see a future beyond caring duties and the pain of bereavement.

What I think of as the Liberal family will, I hope, play a part in that future.

Following the postings on Lib Dem Voice and the activities of fellow Liberals on various social media outlets provides me with a welcome window on the outside world.

Vince is an inspirational leader and there are far too many other great people in the party for me to mention here.

In the past I have been a candidate and campaigner for the Liberal Democrats.

In the months and years ahead I am hoping that maybe I can be those things again.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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  • Katharine Pindar 12th Oct '17 - 6:20pm

    As an accredited and practising counsellor, I was sorry to hear of your long wait for counselling, David. I think the three months’ wait is not invariable, since people have not waited as long as that with the charities for which I have done some voluntary counselling before and alongside my private practice. The long training period with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy means that there must at any one time be many trainees seeking more experience to fulfil their necessary hours of practice before qualifying, so I should ask around to see if there are such people available though not attached to the special bereavement charities. A tremendous amount of counselling work is concerned with loss, of all kinds.

    Otherwise, I think you may well find it helpful, as you suggest, to involve yourself with our party again, and you make an excellent start in posting here, to receive comments and feel indeed part of the Liberal Democrat ‘family’. Very best wishes.

  • David Warren 12th Oct '17 - 10:44pm

    Thanks Katherine.

    I am certainly hoping to be involved in things related to the outside world again and liberal activism will definitely be part of that.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Oct '17 - 8:40am

    David, thank you for finding the courage to write this article and share your experiences.
    You raise such an important issue – the unacceptably long waiting lists for counselling on the NHS, and the difficulty in finding any counselling elsewhere, unless you are able to pay for it.
    I’m sure it is true, as Katharine says, that it is often possible to find counselling through charities, with a much shorter waiting list than three months. But that means doing research, to discover what may be available. If anyone is reading this and thinking something like “its easy enough to google some charities”, then almost certainly that person has never been depressed, or been close to anyone who is suffering from depression. If someone is seriously depressed, then even the apparently simplest task can seem impossibly difficult. And we should remember that many people who have suffered a bereavement are elderly, and elderly people are often not familiar with doing research online.
    Katharine mentions that trainees are often happy to offer counselling free, to gain experience. But it really doesn’t seem ideal if people with the most urgent need for counselling should have to depend on trainees. After all, if someone was facing a long waiting list for surgery, you wouldn’t suggest that they should get a first year medical student to do it.
    As a party, we should campaign for counselling to be much more easily available on the NHS. If someone needs counselling, they need it now. It should be available within a week, just as it is if someone is able to pay. If counselling is not immediately available through NHS counselling services, then the NHS should pay for someone to receive private counselling

  • David Warren 13th Oct '17 - 10:13am

    Catherine, I have done quite a bit of research and all roads led back to Cruse who have been very kind but keep saying its a three month waiting list.

    As for Talking Therapies I have battled through several conversations to finally get to a point where I am making progress.

    It has certainly been a struggle on top of all the stress of dealing with all the arrangements related to someone passing away.

    I would certainly like to see the party campaign for improvements based on my experiences.

  • Martin Walker 13th Oct '17 - 10:18pm

    Take care, David, I was sorry to read of your loss, and the impact it had on you.

    I have some first hand insight into the impact on people’s health of being a long term carer, through my own family circumstances.

    I hope you’re able to pick up, should you choose to do so, your involvement with the ‘Liberal family’. On the positive side, one thing I have noticed since joining the Lib Dems a couple of years ago, and many associated groups since, is how welcoming that family is to people who want to get involved – I’m sure there is a role for you which will suit you, and which will be really appreciated.

    All the best.

  • David Warren 13th Oct '17 - 11:25pm

    Thank you for your kind words Martin.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 14th Oct '17 - 12:16am


    Let me add my admiration for you on this. As someone who has been through stuff , yes we all do at times, not related to mental health issues , but other health issues, and especially after effects of a car accident that harmed my wife in particular, in her case , physically, I know that the NHS is a very inferior service in many ways and areas, sometimes brilliant , at other times terrible.

    I think those here, Katharine, Catherine Jane , Martin, reflect the feeling for you in your situation and the anger, the subject of a different article today by George Kendall, but here, on the issue of the poor treatment .

    I believe it a great shame to lose Norman Lamb from this role. We have much to do to improve care and the only thing I can suggest is that we combine forces , to involve the voluntary sector by integrating it into a network with the NHS, taking the choice agenda to another level whereby the patient is offered more choice because more private and individual counsellors like our Catherine suggests are beyond the reach of those suffering, are like our Katharine, put in touch with those in need of her.

    An integrated , holistic , public private partnership, that has little to do with big business but lots to do with independent practitioners available readily and affordably, is the norm in other EU countries.

    Shame we do not learn from the best of our neighbours instead of denigrating them often unnecessarily.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 14th Oct '17 - 10:05am

    David, I’m so sorry to hear that you have still been unable to access counselling.
    I was wondering whether you have considered contacting a local hospice, and asking about the bereavement counselling that they provide?
    Hospices always do provide some bereavement counselling. At some, this counselling is just for the family and friends of people who were patients of the hospice, and I assume this does not apply to you, or you would already have been offered such counselling. But some do offer counselling, free of charge, to anyone, whether or not the person they have lost was ever treated at the hospice. It may be that your local hospice does offer free counselling to everyone in this way. Or if not, there is likely be be a hospice within reasonable travelling distance of your home, that does.

  • David Warren 14th Oct '17 - 1:58pm


    If improvements are going to come it is only going to be through parties like ours. the Tories simply don’t care and Labour’s answer is always more bureaucracy.

    @Catherine Jane

    I will look into the hospice option, I have found a local funeral directors who run a group counselling service in partnership with Cruse which I have signed up for.

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