A group organised by his school counsellor helped 13-year-old Edward* know he was not alone and that he had support when he needed it during a difficult period.
The teenager attends a bereavement group held at his school to help him cope after his grandfather died.
It has made him realise how lucky he is that his school has a counsellor to offer this professional support when students need it.
Couldn't be bothered
“After my grandfather died, I put on a smiley face for everyone, but inside I was really sad. I was down all the time. I just couldn’t be bothered to do anything,” said Edward.
“I wasn’t really doing as good as I should be at school. At parents’ evening the teacher was like ‘I know you can do better, I just don’t understand why you aren’t.’”
When his class were told about the bereavement group during a PSE lesson, he knew that it was something that he should go along to.
The group meets every month and normally about 10 to 12 young people go along.
It was not what Edward expected.
“I thought it was going to be all sad and depressing, with people crying into tissues.
“But actually it was all about nice ways to remember the people who had died and not forget about them. It was good. It was very inclusive.
“It was helpful because everybody was going through the same as me. I was not alone. I had everyone else there who understood what I was going through.”
The school counsellor led the group through different activities that focused on how they could remember their loved ones and focus on positive memories.
“At Christmas we made a bauble with little memories in and filled it with glitter and all this nice sparkly stuff.
“It was quite nice that I always have that thing to remember him by. I can put that on my tree every year.”
Edward uses some of the techniques discussed in the sessions – including the focus on positive memories – when he’s away from the group, at home, or by himself and feeling down.
Helps me get through things
Six months on and Edward still attends the group every month.
“It helps me get through things.
“It’s made me a lot happier. I’m doing better in school.
“I had to put a face on before, but now I’m just happy and smiley anyway, so it’s good.”
Getting the chance to attend the group, has proved to Edward that school counsellors are crucial.
“It’s not very fair if your school doesn’t have one.
“When you have a school counsellor, it’s good because there’s always somebody you can talk to. There’s always somebody to lean back on.
“If you’re not having a good day, if there’s something going on then you can go and speak to them about it.”
And Edward has an important message for the Government and people who make decisions on schools’ funding.
“Get every school a counsellor. We need them. They’re vital.”
* Names have been changed.
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