A local lady is helping The Hospice of St Francis raise awareness of the extensive support it provides for families who have experienced bereavement, saying she has felt "wrapped up in a blanket of love" since her husband of nearly 50 years, Terry, died after a short and unexpected illness.
Grandmother-of-five, Sandra Wicks, from Croft Lane, Chipperfield, and her family, from Garston, have received support from the Hospice’s Wellbeing and Family service since Terry passed away nearly two years ago. Sandra can be seen in a powerful video, talking poignantly about how the charity has helped her through her grief and carried her “from the darkest place she’s ever known into the light”.
In the video she is joined by one of her grandchildren, Cassie, nine, who talks fondly about her grandpa ‘Bumps’ and how much she misses him.
Sandra received one-to-one weekly therapy and attended the charity’s six-week Cooking with Chris cookery course, which brings together people who’ve been recently bereaved, building their confidence and motivation to eat. She also joined its monthly Pilgrim Bereavement Support Group.
She said: “I found the Hospice’s support sessions invaluable. They were full of talking, tears and laughter but they enabled me to share the grief I couldn’t explain and helped me move from the darkest place I’ve ever known into the light. I’ve gone from wondering how I would survive to looking at my life with fresh eyes.
“It’s hard to put it into words, but since Terry died, the Hospice has wrapped me up in a blanket of love. Every time I visit, I feel uplifted and I don’t know how I would have coped without it.
“I had no idea of the range of help and care services they provide for your whole family following bereavement and that their support just continues. The Hospice was, and is, here for all our family and others like us.”
Sandra’s whole family was touched by the Hospice but Sandra’s granddaughter Cassie, a pupil at Kingsway Junior School in Watford, found losing her ‘Bumps’ particularly hard. She has been supported by the Hospice’s Children’s team who have helped her talk about her memories, provided special experiences like Pony Days with other children who are also facing loss and suggested simple things she could do, like creating a worry jar as a way to articulate her feelings.
Sandra is fronting an appeal to raise funds for The Hospice of St Francis family services, which are available to anyone in the local community should they need them. Just £5 will help fund any of the family support services whilst £25 will fund a children’s bereavement care activity such as one of the Pony Days which Cassie attended.
Hospice CEO Kate Phipps-Wiltshire explained: “Every life is precious and when that life is no longer there it can be devastating for the whole family. People who experience our bereavement care tell me that our care ‘saved their lives and those of their children’ because we helped them to endure the impact of their grief and provided a place of safety to make sense of their lives again.
“Grief, whilst ordinary in the face of loss, can be extraordinary in its impact. Bereavement care increases our resilience and that can be felt across several generations in one family.
“Grief is uniquely personal, which is why we tailor our support to the needs of each person. In the last six months we made 1,247 support line calls, speaking with 160 people a month, ran 418 individual support sessions, helping 80 people and we brought people together for peer support in groups.
“This Spring we’d love our community to help us help more families like Sandra’s. We’re asking people to give what they can afford to make sure we’re there for every family in our community whenever they may need us. Thank you for your support.”
Watch Sandra and Cassie’s video and donate today at www.stfrancis.org.uk/springappeal.