Grief and Sympathy is written by my mother, Elizabeth Postle (usually known as Betty). It is built and edited by me, Lesley. You will hear both of our voices in these pages, but it is my mother's lifetime of experience and wisdom which I hope will reach out and touch those of you suffering grief and loss in your lives.
So I leave my mother Betty to tell you about herself, so that you know in whose experienced hands you are guided, as you search her words for some comfort, which I sincerely hope you will find.
“This website is not just about my own personal bereavement pathway, but experiences encountered during my 73 years lifetime and a long and varied career in the nursing profession.
Nursing cadetship and training
I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a nurse, so at the tender age of 16, I found myself with a friend on the coach going down to Southend-on-Sea to start what would be a long, satisfying and fascinating 45 year career in nursing.
It seems very brave now, looking back, but we were ready for the adventure and we were well looked after. We lived in the attics of the small hospital and worked long hours. Our late night passes were until 10pm, and we had to see the night sister when we got in. Mind you, we managed to circumvent that one on many an occasion!
By the age of 18, I was in the main wards doing my staff nurse training. I transferred back to the north East of England to do my final year at Stockton on Tees General and there I got married to Colin who I'd met at a school dance when I was 15.
I did my midwifery exams while pregnant with Lesley, my daughter, and the editor and builder of this website. My son Andrew came along 3 years later after a miscarriage in-between.
Bringing up the children and nursing part-time
While the children were at school I worked at a centre for people with epilepsy, which included a school and a workshop, and housed the elderly. I worked in the sick bay. Then I worked for a nursing agency in Cambridge, UK for about 5 years. Through the agency, I worked on private hospital wards, at doctors' surgeries, and in private schools in the sick bay as well as nursing a lot of fascinating elderly patients in their homes.
Once the children had grown up, I was able to continue on the next step of my nursing career. I applied to become a Health Visitor and was lucky enough to be given the chance to be sponsored on the one year course by the health authority. If you don't know what health visitors do in the UK, they have responsibility for all the babies until they reach school age. The training includes child development, psychology, sociology, counselling, and bereavement. I worked as a health visitor for ten years, and helped many families through such tragedies as stillbirths, cot deaths, terminal illnesses, accidents and child deaths. I also visited the battered wives refuges and held clinics for mothers and babies as well as ante-natal clinics. We also visited the schools to do health checks.
Running a Nursing Home
My husband Colin took early retirement in 1985, and we bought a high dependency nursing home with 19 beds in Norfolk, UK. We ran this beautiful home in an old rectory for 15 years until we retired together to Australia in 2000. We had some wonderful patients over the years, and it was an honour to support the long term disabled and the terminally ill and their families.
I had the wonderful good fortune to have ten fabulous years of retirement with my husband Colin, here in Australia close to my son, my daughter and my grandchildren. We traveled extensively, played bridge and saw a lot of our family.
My own bereavement and wonderful friends
I have to thank the best two children a parent could have, plus their families for the tremendous support they gave me after the sudden loss of my dear husband of 52 years in 2011. Huge thanks also to my sincere, supportive friends from the bridge club and debating group who took me under their wings when I wandered around on automatic pilot for several months. They got used to being bottom of the class when playing with me, but they persevered. When I was so anxious, I was scared to drive, they ferried me around. I’ve been blessed with many friends and you will never know how much you helped me. My dearest friends know who they are.
Life goes on
People say to me “how do you cope alone?” Well, you have no choice but to get through each day. Find some pleasure in each day. Enjoy friends and family outings. The alternative is to sit in a corner, mope, give up. Life is too short and too precious for that.
Grief and Sympathy - this website
I have found great solace in writing the pages for this website. I started writing one night when I couldn't sleep and just couldn't stop. My daughter Lesley is a website builder and suggested we make a site to try and help people through the pathways of bereavement. If it is of any help to anyone, I have achieved my goal.
The chaotic mix of emotions we feel, whether we
have lost a child, a partner or a friend are going to be unique to
each of us. No-one will ever know exactly how you feel. But perhaps
reading through any of these pages, you might find something that
strikes a chord, or gives you some hope.
We'd also love to hear from you. If you do have a question, submit it on our Bereavement Forum page where we will try to answer it, and you can get comments from other readers too. We'd also love to hear your comments, feedback and suggestions and you can contact us through the contact page here.
I wish you all the very best in your journey through this precious life. You will survive bereavement. It’s a painful road but endure, press on. You come out of it a stronger person with a better understanding of life around you."
PS. We've been writing this site for over a year now, and I have also recently written a book to help those coping with caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's. It is a practical guide to caring, but it also gives a lot of suggestions on how to cope with the inevitable grief of gradually losing someone to this disease. Just click on the book to find out more.