You have to recognise that healing is a long process. You should give yourself credit for deciding that the relationship was untenable: that was a positive first step. But now you have to accept that the relationship is lost. You may have got stuck at this stage as some people do; knowing others have experienced the same thing can help and most big bookshops now have sections on relationships and self-help where you should find a number of books dealing with this kind of situation. It is also important to re-build your social life, not by dating but by making friends and meeting with people who have also been through painful experiences and come through them. Finding a counsellor who can help you to make sense of what has happened and what is happening might help.
Janet Reibstein, psychologist and author (with Martin Richards) of 'Sexual Arrangements' (Mandarin pounds 4.99), Cambridge Consultation Centre 0223 359260.
My mother spent many years working with literacy projects for women in the developing world. She died recently leaving me some money, and I would like to make a donation to this sort of project. But I have read that money given to charities is often spent on administration or ends up in the pockets of politicians. How can I find a suitable project and be sure it will get the money?
Your mother was, indeed, doing valuable work. Unicef (the United Nations Children's Fund) supports many programmes for women's and girls' literacy and you might be interested in an experimental programme in 2,500 villages in Bangladesh where nearly two-thirds of the pupils are girls, compared with only 40 per cent in government schools. Money given for these projects will not go into anyone's pockets because, although Unicef works in co-
operation with governments, the money goes direct to the projects and is not given to politicians to administer.
Unicef, 55 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3NB, tel: 071-405 5592.
Last year a member of our family committed suicide. We are desperate for some help, either in the form of counselling or through a self-help support group. We have tried to find a specialist counsellor or group, but have found nothing. The bereavement organisations which we have contacted do not offer specialist help.
As a family bereaved by suicide, you are facing a particularly complicated and difficult loss. Suicide is different from other deaths. It is a sudden, traumatic and often violent act which can leave family and friends with painful and potentially overwhelming feelings. The need for counselling and support to help you come to terms with the death is certainly not unusual. Help of this kind can also make it easier for family members to talk about the suicide together because you may have particular feelings and thoughts that you need to share, and this way you can offer one another support. Anyone who is bereaved will grieve, but for 'survivors' of suicide, the reactions are often particularly intense. You may be feeling very guilty, believing (however unrealistically) that you should have been able to prevent the suicide. Guilt is one of the commonest reactions. You may feel angry with the person who died because suicide can seem an enormous rejection. And you are probably asking yourself over and over again why it happened, but there may be no simple answer. Many bereavement services are becoming aware of the need for specialist help.
Alison Wertheimer, bereavement counsellor and author of 'A Special Scar' (Routledge pounds 37.50/ pounds 11.99), London Association of Bereavement Services, 356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PN, tel: 071-700 8134 (answering machine).
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