What I learned at SeeSaw
A personal reflection of my time at SeeSaw
After six years at SeeSaw working as a clinical practitioner it is time for me to move on and leave the charity that has been very close to my heart for a long time. As I leave, I would like to share my reflections on my time with the charity and to consider what I have learned and appreciated whilst working here.
In 2017 when I started at SeeSaw we were in a time of change and modernisation. Old ways (paper files) were replaced by new (electronic databases) and old models of grief and support were being enhanced with evidence-based research and digital and online support. Change is good and it was an exciting time. People have often said to me, “isn’t it really sad working with death and dying every day?” and my reply has always been “No, it is a privilege.” My job at SeeSaw has been to walk alongside children and families in their struggle and to help them to make sense of what is happening and to move forward with hope. Families are in their time of need and despair, being able to help a little is reward in itself.
Every child that I have met or worked with at SeeSaw has been amazing. Their lives have been turned upside down by a death in their family and they are really hurting. However, what I have never failed to be impressed by is their determination to make sense of their loss and to work out how to live with a broken heart. I have had incredible conversations with all sorts of children and young people about how to do that – and it is different for everyone. Grieving is hard work and takes a lot of energy and can really disrupt lives.
Many of the children that I have worked with have had additional needs or a disability. It has been wonderful to be able to help these children and has given me the opportunity to be creative in my approach to support. I have been encouraged and humbled in equal measure by how the children have learned to express their emotions and to tell their stories, in a way that is unique to them.
A long time ago, the general consensus was that children should be excluded from conversations around death and dying and that they should not attend a parent’s funeral for instance. This happened to my Dad when his mother died when he was 13; he regretted not attending the funeral for the rest of his life and its impact was felt down the generations. However, thankfully, times and attitudes have changed. Children need to be part of the grieving story. They need to know what is going on, in age-appropriate terms. They need to be heard and seen and involved. They need their questions answered by people that love them. Children are strong, they can be resilient, and they are optimists. Children will grow around their grief and learn to move forward in their lives. I have had the privilege of helping some of them do just that.
There have been some personally memorable moments, such as appearing as a dance contestant in Strictly Bibby,a corporate fundraising event. That was one big highlight. Adjusting to working at home during the Covid pandemic was a challenge but we coped and were proud to have managed to continue to provide a service to bereaved children and their families and to stay connected as a team.
Finally, I want to mention the incredible team at SeeSaw ably led by Judith, that I have had the pleasure to work with over the last few years, including all past and present colleagues and volunteers. They are a phenomenal group of people that really care for the needs of bereaved children. It sounds corny to say it but there is love at SeeSaw and it is put into action on a daily basis. I shall miss you all but will be cheering you on from the side-lines and championing the cause.