When Karla's brother was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq her life fell apart. With the help of SSAFA's Bereaved Siblings Support Group she has put it back together.
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At first Karla was finding it diffucult to talk about the loss of her younger brother, Private Lee Ellis. When she joined the BSSG she found a place to speak about it with the mutual support of others who could truly understand.
Karla said: “Lee was not just my brother he was my best friend. My daughter and Lee’s daughter were even in the same class at school.
"As a family we were sort of rushed through the process that followed because it was quite high profile. The incident had been caught on camera by Panorama and it was also the first death in the North West. I found the inquest difficult but I think I had to go through it. When you don’t know what has happened you imagine the worst. I used to go to bed and have nightmares.
"I was put on a waiting list for counselling and then the funding for the service was cut so I didn’t receive any support. It was crazy. I felt like my life was just falling apart. I was made redundant around the same time and I was really unhappy.
“At that time there were a group of bereaved families who were angry and upset. That’s when SSAFA stepped in and arranged for us to meet up and we developed the support group. The one-to-one relationships are really important. I think I had developed a lot of trust issues and found it hard to open up to anyone. I was so filled with grief and anger.
“I think for me the SSAFA meetings were almost an escape. I felt like I was doing something positive from it all. I’m very lucky that I was able to find a way to express myself. I had just lost my job and it gave me something else to focus on. It felt good to be able to help other people. I met people on the same wavelength as me who supported me and it’s nice to be able to give that back. The more you give the more you get back. And it’s nice to feel that my brother’s life is important.”