Jenny worked for 20 years as a registered nurse in Palliative Care in Dubbo before becoming a volunteer in the local bereavement service. The one-day-a-week role involves contacting people who have requested follow-up after bereavement.
“We ask the family early-on if they want to be contacted, and if they do then we book a time for a follow-up call about 4 or 5 weeks after the death.” Not everyone wants to be contacted. “We make it easy for them not to continue with the calls if they don’t want it.”
In a small community Jenny often knows the people that she is calling. “A lot of the people I am ringing, I remember their mother, or their father, or I know them from golf, or something, it does concern me that they might think ‘Oh there is that Jenny Furney ringing again, I don’t want to talk to her, she knows me personally’ – I don’t know if people do feel like that but I am conscious that they might have that in the back of their mind.”
“I’ll be in touch with about 15 or so people at a time, some are long conversations, and sometimes it’s just a message. If they aren’t responding then we don’t continue to call them.
“Part of the role is to screen people, to see who is not coping, and a very small percentage will need referral on to a counsellor or psychologist.”
“I leave work feeling quite tired, because you put an effort into it and you’re careful of what you say. It’s quite exhausting, without doing anything physical, the emotional side of things is very tiring.”