With life, comes the inevitability of loss. While we all know this to be true, when we or those around us are bereaved, we don’t always know how grief will manifest or how to cope when it does. Grief counselling can offer a toolkit for coping with these emotions. Sometimes, the expectation of the bereaved is to bounce back or move on. For many, this is neither possible nor a desirable outcome. They will, however, learn to live with their loss. One woman who knows this all too well is Elaine Lloyd.
Elaine is 49 and lives in Oldham with her two children, Owen and Holly, who are 15 and 11 respectively. Two years ago, the family suffered a great loss when Neil, Elaine’s husband, died following complications with an aneurysm in his throat. Neil, “a true family man”, was just 48.
Neil had been a pillar of the family and his creative streak was a constant source of fun for his children. Speaking to Centre of Excellence, Elaine recalled how her late husband “always put his family first”. Neil bought light and joy to the home with his “lovely dry sense of humour and always made me and the children giggle our heads off.”
After this unexpected bereavement, Elaine found herself in a “dark place” and set out to procure grief counselling for her two children — and support for herself, too. Along the way, Elaine embarked on the Grief and Bereavement Diploma Course with Centre of Excellence in order to better understand the grief counselling on behalf of her children. After studying for two years, Elaine completed the course, dubbing it an “inspiring journey”.
Elaine received her diploma certificate on October 28th last year, the date of Neil's birthday.
Upon its completion, Elaine began to offer her children support with the knowledge gained on her learning journey. Elaine said, “The knowledge from your course got me out of the very dark place I was in at the time. I actually counselled myself as well as the children. The course turned me into a superwoman. It helped my whole family tremendously.”
One way Elaine and her family learned to live with their loss through grief counselling was inspired by Neil himself. The family is very creative at heart, and Elaine encouraged her children to channel their grief into their passions and derive some joy and self-worth from those crafts.
Elaine, who grew up with ambitions of becoming an opera singer, not only creates healing cushions for her local craft shop but also wrote and recorded a song called I Believe In Angels in loving memory of Neil and has written a memoir of the same title about their life together.
You can listen to Elaine’s song here:
Elaine told Centre of Excellence, “Your course inspired me to write my book and record my song because it proved that when you use your creative skills, you can turn a bad situation into a positive. It taught me that being creative can get you out of a dark place.”
While Owen is a talented go-karting driver, Holly followed in her mum’s footsteps and began making loom band worry dolls. Her mum thinks these lovely, thoughtful creations are amazing!
Elaine said, “My daughter’s creations showed me that my late husband’s creative skills shined through his little princess.”
While Elaine credits music with healing her soul, she also has her spirituality to thank.
This helped her find coping mechanisms through grief counselling. She explained, “My spirituality made me see the light at the end of the course and made me feel so special and gifted that I can now help all the beautiful souls out there who are suffering in silence at present.”
“Now, my late husband’s friend has nominated me for an MBE Award for all the work I have done in my local community,” Elaine, who was a runner up in the Inspiration category of the 2021 Centre of Excellence Awards, said.
Elaine is now caring full-time for her mother who is unable to eat or walk due to her Barrett's disease.
Despite the challenges, Elaine firmly believes in miracles and wants to see her mother return to strength. In fact, she plans to write another book and record another song. “Maybe it will be called I Believe In Miracles for the final chapters of my life,” Elaine muses.
Elaine shared some final words of advice for anyone going through a bereavement, saying, “Keep shining! Always believe in yourself. We are all put on Mother Earth to use our creative skills to their full potential and we are all here for a purpose.”
Coming full circle, Elaine concluded with some thoughts on her husband, Neil. “He always turned a negative situation into a positive. I was truly blessed to have Neil on my path and every time I look into my son’s and daughter’s eyes, I see Neil. He will live on in our hearts forever.”