Lindsey’s Story


Lindsey is one of two counsellors at the hospice whose role it is to counsel both patients to help them come to terms with a diagnosis and people close to them, including children.

During the pandemic she has been working exclusively from her home.

Lindsay said: “Before COVID I would sit opposite someone in the same room and get to know them. I could not only hear what they were saying but I could read their body language and see the expression on their face. As a counsellor we are looking for all of these signals to get to know the whole person opposite. This is when we can get to develop a relationship and establish trust.

“If you’d said last year I’d be working via telephone or video call I’d have said that wouldn’t work at all. What I’ve found is that it does work but it takes a lot more concentration. Particularly with a telephone call I’m listening intently to the way their voice may change. If there’s a silence I don’t know if someone has started to cry or are simply pensive and that is difficult sometimes but we have still been able to develop relationships.

“With a video call I can still see expressions, see if someone is getting upset. I think the fact that clients can see me helps and we can build a good rapport.”

Impact of the pandemic on patients

Lindsey says the pandemic has intensified the needs of the people she helps.

“What I’ve noticed is that, because of the pandemic, people’s needs are not just about their bereavement but they are about the pandemic too.

“People are staying clients for longer because the restrictions of the pandemic are stopping people in their grief. So, perhaps somebody lost a loved one in September 2019, six months down the line they might have felt able to invest more in life, such as meeting a friend for coffee or going on holiday. However, those sorts of things have been closed off to them so they are on their own with their grief. The grief process is interrupted and made so much harder.

“I’ve spoken to people who lost a partner last year and couldn’t be with anyone at Christmas because they were shielding or not able to travel. People are unable to hug when what they need are care, compassion and comfort but it’s all been taken away. Whether you are grieving or not that has all been taken away.

“Those who are ill are being deprived of those things they would want to do – dream holidays, making memories with family. Younger people in particular want to spend this time making memories with their children but are unable to do it. Everyone is being deprived of spending time with people they care about.”

Looking out at nature

At her home Lindsey works at her table beside a window where she can look onto her garden.

“This has changed my mood,” she says. “It helps me focus and I can listen better. They do say looking out at green spaces and being in nature is good for your mood and I do agree with that. Throughout all of this I have watched the seasons change through last spring, a beautiful May and June then through the autumn and winter. Everything happened as it should and I witnessed it happening as it should although, for all of us, our world has stood still. I have been unable to visit my sister in Canada and my daughter has had to postpone her wedding because of the pandemic.

Looking ahead

“As life gradually returns to some kind of normality and it surely will, my hope is that the biggest positive thing that can come out of this strange and challenging time is that as human beings we become less insular and self-focussed and have more awareness and compassion for the feelings and emotional needs of others.”