A New Support Service

Seventeen ESRA members have just shared a wonderful experience. On the energetic initiative of Susan Kurnedz, a group of volunteers has been set up to create an ESRA listening group to help people through the harrowing feelings consequent on major life issues.

Those who came forward to join the first group, willingly, though with apprehension, submitted themselves to an extensive interview procedure. They then committed themselves to following an introductory course which explored issues around loss and bereavement and to practiced listening skills. The 9 week course has just finished.

The group jelled very quickly. Although the focus of the service will be on helping others, participants realized that to be of effective use as counselors it was necessary to reach an understanding of themselves and their own experience of life losses.

Every adult has had to face loss in their lives. Listening to deal with even minor losses holds the germ of learning to cope with the major ones which tear at the very roots of one’s identity and seem unbearable. Every member of the group had experienced a loss in the close circle of his/her family and friends and gradually as we got to know and value each other more, we found it easier to share these painful experiences and get comfort and support from the others.

The group feel ready and have proved their competence. They will continue on an ongoing learning path and will receive regular monthly supervision, advice and support from us in creating a new professional and completely confidential service for English speakers.

As tutors, we found meeting and working with these exceptional people a powerful learning experience and quite inspirational. We have no doubt that modestly, skillfully and with complete respect for other people, the ESRA volunteer counselors will be able to help many people through overwhelming grief and despair and we have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone who feels the need to talk to a truly listening ear.

The support is not only for bereavement due to death of a loved one, but for the many kinds of loss that cause distress and anxiety including the loss of employment, a home, a loved animal and other situations.

If one is finding difficulty in coming to terms with their loss, our counselors, with the skills they have learnt, will be able to help. The counseling is conducted on a one-to-one basis and confidentiality is assured. Clients will be seen at one of the venues, or at home if housebound.

Counselors will spend three-quarters of an hour to an hour per session with each client and continue seeing the client until he/she is able to manage alone. Clients who feel the need for help at a later date only need to contact us again. Our door is always open.

This program is a purely voluntary program with no fees involved and we hope to provide a strong support service to the community.

For more information or to make an appointment please call: Susan Kumedz, coordinator, tel: 052 698 9088 or ESRA tel: 09 748 2957.

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Andi Smidth
I believe this is a wonderful program. I'd also suggest for them to visit www.deathletters.org as it really helped me as well when I was going through a similar experience. The grieving process is a long and painful one but knowing someone is going through the same thing gets it a little less painful.

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About the author

Judith Usiskin

Judith came originally from Manchester but lived in London for many years. Her professional experience in both cities has been in the field of teaching, youth and community work and social work and ...

Juliet Rostowsky

Juliet Rostowsky is a South African registered and now retired Industrial Psychologist.  After completing her MA in Industrial Psychology (Witwatersrand University, South Africa), she com...

Susan Kurnedz

Susan was born in Hull and grew up in Manchester, England, where she volunteered in the Citizens Advice Bureau for eighteen years and later with the Probation and Aftercare Service helping battered...

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