David’s story

After his son passed away, David* felt devastated and unable to cope. He ended up not having the money to pay for his rent and found himself sleeping rough. Here, he shares his story and how St Mungo’s has supported him in his grief and to move away from his experience of homelessness.

My son passed away two years ago and I was devastated but didn’t know how to engage with it on an emotional level. I felt numb and struggled to face what was going on, passing through life without things really touching me. I became unable to pay my rent, which lead to my gas and electric being cut off until I was eventually evicted from my home. I spent nearly two weeks in the park homeless. But someone came and gave me the support I needed and I was taken to a St Mungo’s assessment centre and was offered bereavement support.

I wanted to feel emotionally connected to myself – I hadn’t connected with my emotions and feelings when my son passed away. I was taken into care at a young age and was in several care homes until I was 18. It was better to not show emotions, safer to remain passive and not feel. But the support I received through St Mungo’s has helped me to start to talk about my grief.

In the sessions I’ve had, we’ve explored the relationships in my life and looked at how I felt they never touched me in the way I felt they should – I kept people at arm’s length. And this helped me to realise that, when looking at my life as a whole, I’d run away from commitment and in doing so, I’d missed out on some of life’s great moments. But I’ve been learning to have compassion for myself and I’ve been shown how to listen and link my thoughts and feelings to my body. Even if I think I don’t ‘feel much’, my body will often indicate that something is going on – pacing, heart beating faster or my tremor getting worse or better. I was shown that by noticing how my body acts, I can be able to tune into what I’m feeling.

I felt guilty for never properly grieving for my son. But with the help of St Mungo’s bereavement support, I’ve found out about how grief is a complex language of our thoughts, feelings, physicality and behaviour. I’ve learnt that when I couldn’t connect with my feelings, my behaviour reflected my grief. I was supported to find a ‘map’ and having a ‘toolbox’ of ways to be able to connect with my feelings more and manage them – writing them down being one them. So I’ve since started journaling to help connect with my feelings. And things have started to ‘click’ into place – I could write about what I had never admitted to myself or other people. I’ve been able to connect with my past and my present and it’s given me hope for the future. Where before there was just a murky path, now there’s a clear road to recovery.