Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Support for Michelle after losing husband Stuart to meningitis in 2017

Clara Wiggins | 21st December 2019

The Christmas period can be particularly difficult for anyone dealing with loss from meningitis, which is why we want to stress the importance of seeking the support you need

Michelle Jackson shares experience of counselling after Stuart's meningitis death

Marking two years since the death of her husband Stuart, Michelle Jackson spoke to us about the help she got and why she would encourage others to reach out too.

When Michelle's life was shattered by the death of Stuart from meningitis in December 2017, the first support she received was from one of our Community Support Officers.

Since then, counselling paid for by Meningitis Now has helped Michelle come to terms with the changes in her life and helped her cope with feelings of guilt. Signposting from us also led her to a group that she said changed her life.

For Michelle, we really were there when she needed us most – and now, two years after Stuart’s terrible death, she wants others to know how important it is to seek help when you need it.

“The first support I received was a visit from Christine [Mather] the day after the funeral,” Michelle told us. “She brought with her a pack full of leaflets and information on what Meningitis Now can do and who they were, plus leaflets from other organisations that may also help."

“This included one called WAY - Widowed and Young; this group changed my life and without Meningitis Now telling me about it I may never have found them."

“I joined the group straight away and it really helped me cope.”

Adults Get It Too

Michelle, who last year helped us promote our Adults Get it Too campaign, said our Community Support Officer Christine had offered her counselling when she was ready for that step.

“Christine met me for coffee and a catch up a while later which is when I mentioned that I thought I might be ready for a counselling referral,” said Michelle.

“She got onto it straight away but did explain that sometimes it takes a while to organise."

“Actually it was quick in the end and I started counselling with a lovely lady that had been found for me in my local area. I was offered 10 sessions but didn’t use them all as felt after seven or eight that I didn’t need any more, and knew that would save a little bit more money for someone else."

“The counselling helped me to come to terms with the changes in my life. It also stopped me from feeling guilty for surviving this traumatic experience and that it had been Stuart that got ill and not me."

“It helped me to move forward with my life.”

Comforting

Michelle also said she had attended one of our Forever Days, events put on specifically for bereaved families. She said she went along with a friend and spoke about how comforting it was to meet other families who had also lost someone.

“Some had lost children, some siblings, others were like myself,” said Michelle. “We did activities and had group sessions that helped with understanding meningitis and grief."

“I can really see how these days can help grieving families come together and help each other.”

In the last two years since she lost Stuart, Michelle has been determined to give back to the charity which helped her and has so far raised an amazing £4,000 for Meningitis Now.

“Things have slowed down now with fundraising, but two years down the line that is understandable,” she said.

Christine Mather, Meningitis Now’s Community Support Officer who worked with Michelle, said she was always happy to help people find the support they needed.

“We offer a wide range of support and I like working with people to find out what they need and make sure they get it at the point it they feel ready for it,” she said.

“It’s good to hear that Michelle found our support so helpful, it’s what we are here for."

“I am in awe of her for doing so much amazing fundraising as well, and very grateful for her help in raising awareness about the dangers of meningitis for older people.”

Find out more about our range of support services.

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