Telling ‘My Story’ to Alex James of Bereavement UK

BereavementUKLogoA few months ago, I got in touch with the charity Bereavement UK to see if they’d be interested in me writing for them in their magazine.  As it turned out, they no longer produce a magazine but offer a website with a wide range of resources and information for the bereaved or for professionals working with bereaved.  But after reading my post September: Season of Mist and Mellow Sadness, the founder and co-director, Alex James, called me up with a suggestion.  “I’d love you to come and do a podcast for us, to chat about your experience for a series we’re starting called ‘My Story’.”

So, last Tuesday I found myself driving up the A5 to do just that.

I was naturally rather nervous.  Talking to a friend or even an acquaintance about my experience in a private space is one thing.  But chatting to someone I don’t know in a recording studio to be posted online was quite another.  What if I had a wobble and got too choked up to talk, or needed to blow my nose noisily into a tissue?!

Chatting to a good friend about it last week, she made the wise suggestion of thinking through beforehand the key things I might want to say.  Even though I knew this ‘interview’ would take the form of relaxed chat for which I didn’t want to go to armed with ‘answers’, I knew it was wise to go prepared with a few key points.  I still get choked up about it when I talk about it so preparation is invaluable.  So the next day I gave myself permission to jot down my thoughts.

When I got up the morning of the interview, did the myriad things needed to get the kids to school and drove to her house, I had a sense of peace, even anticipation of this meeting.  Something in me sensed this might be start of something new, something bigger than this event.

When I arrived, I quickly knew that Alex was going to put me at my ease.  And I was right.  She couldn’t have been more relaxed and personable, without being intrusive or over-stepping of boundaries.  We spent a generous amount of time chatting beforehand over coffee about the charity and her experience before she started the charity 10 years ago as a hospice counsellor.  I write ‘counselling’ in this way as she used far from conventional methods ranging from bringing animals in, informal ‘eavesdropping’ for children, and all manner of fun or intuitive ways of allowing families to come to terms with dying and death. And of course we chatted through a little more detail of my story, the blog posts I’d written and what she’d like to discuss in the interview.

This really helped put me at ease because up till then, I really wasn’t sure what she was going to focus on for the podcast.  I had picked up that she was a ‘big picture’ person, a slightly crazy visionary with a extraordinarily big heart, a bit chaotic even, and so I wondered if I would feel safe opening up to her.  But I was.

By the time we went into the recording studio across the yard, I felt as relaxed as I think I could be.  Nerves didn’t even come into it.  I’ll admit that I have had a little bit of experience doing radio interviews and I naturally enjoy public speaking which will have helped. But that aside, Alex’s calm and professional approach to the interview put me completely at ease.  Her questions were focused and insightful, sensitively put and they never dug unnecessarily deep, thus keeping me at bay from raw emotions.

At the end, she explained that she would send it to me for my thoughts on editing or even re-recording if I wasn’t happy with it.  I couldn’t have suggested better. As it turned out, it needed neither.

To listen to the podcast, click here which will take you to the relevant page on Bereavement UK’s website.  It’s about 25 minutes long so you might want to grab a cuppa or a glass of something first 🙂

Let me know your thoughts either here or on my usual social media pages. Thank you.

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