Meet Caroline and Nino

Living with Loss is a free bereavement information event for those who have lost a partner or family member. It provides crucial insight into the grieving process, but it is very much the personal stories shared by our volunteers that resonates with the attendees. We recently had the privilege of catching up with Caroline and Nino to chat about their experiences volunteering at Living with Loss.

What inspired you to become involved with the Living with Loss sessions and share your personal story there?

Caroline:  I’ve been a fundraising volunteer ever since my husband passed away at the wonderful Forest Holme in 2014.  Living with Loss gives me an opportunity to engage on a more emotional and personal level with folk who are confronting the shipwreck of bereavement.

Nino: After having attended the Therapeutic Bereavement support group, I was approached and asked if I could help out for a session. While attending the support group, I found that sharing and listening to each other’s experiences helped, so I decided to make the original one-off offer of help, a more permanent one.

How do you prepare yourself emotionally before sharing your story with attendees?

Caroline: I’m not a natural speaker and find it hard to express my emotions, but I try to tell myself that, after 9 years of living with loss myself, I should be able to use my personal experience to help others. 

Nino: I have always been able to write down thoughts, feelings and emotions during my life and after the loss of my wife Jane, the writing helped me a lot. So during the first few sessions I read some of my writing to the attendees, and found that reading to them helped me as well as I could now hear aloud those thoughts.

Can you describe a particularly impactful moment or interaction you’ve had with someone attending the sessions?

Caroline: My heart went out to a man who had lost his 20-year-old daughter. She was born with a severe congenital disability which required 24-hour care from him and his wife. His story about how his family dealt with their varying aspects of grief moved me so very much. 

Nino: I recall clearly a gentleman and a lady at two different occasions. During the sharing of my testimony I was telling the attendees that at one point in the early days of my loss, I had been in a very bad place, mentally and emotionally. Strange and obscure thoughts coming and going in my mind, not been able to see a way out or how to ask for help. The belief that I was the only person feeling this way, and that no one else could possibly be going through or understand my state of mind and the weight of my loss.

At the end of the session, I was approached by the two people, as I said before, at two separate occasions, and both quite tearfully said that they too were experiencing the exact same emotions and thoughts I had described and that as I was talking it felt as if all of those thoughts were gradually been erased and that weight was lifting off them.

How do you think your own experiences have helped others attending these sessions?

Caroline: I would like to think that my own story, lived over nine years, may provide folk with some optimism for the future – some hope that they will come to terms with Living with Loss and find a way forward. I also have experience of the physical impact that grief can have on your body – I hope I can help people avoid that happening to them!

Nino: I believe that knowing that someone else has experienced what you are going through and seeing how they have learned to cope and deal with, and where they are now, can only be of help and support.

What do you find most rewarding about volunteering with Living with Loss?

Caroline: I am particularly rewarded when someone tells me they identify with one of the experiences or feelings I have shared – I like them to think I am emotionally beside them on their journey. 

Nino: I think the reward is seeing the change in the attendees when they first come through the door and how they are when the session is over. I’ve been told that it’s a feeling of not being alone, and that with time and support they’ll be all right.

As a volunteer, have there been any unexpected insights / lessons gained by volunteering at Living with Loss sessions?

Caroline: Yes – it has brought home to me how complex and challenging grief can be on so many levels, and for so many different reasons. It has made me feel fortunate that my own grief for lost loved ones has been blessedly uncomplicated.

Nino: Realising the impact that sharing your own testimony has on the attendees, and the positive feedback. Also was surprised at how few men are willing to share their experience.

*The next Living with Loss session will be on the 11th April; you can read more about it here

Stay in the know

Subscribe to our e-newsletter or postal news to receive the latest updates from Forest Holme Hospice.

Skip to content