Spring Appeal - Sandra's Story
After losing her husband Terry suddenly in April 2016 following 48 years of marriage, grandmother-of-five Sandra Wicks returned to the Hospice, where Terry spent the last week of his life, for bereavement support.
Here she describes her own and her family’s experience of our care...
At the age of 69, my husband Terry and I were enjoying our retirement. We’d been travelling and were enjoying time together with family and friends. Life was good.
But in October 2015 with no warning, Terry suddenly felt unwell and before we knew it, he was in an ambulance, being rushed to hospital. On New Year’s Eve, we were given the devastating news that Terry had Mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos whilst working as a builder.
From being a strong, active, capable man, almost overnight his illness robbed him of his independence and mobility. He was breathless, anxious, in pain and very low. He didn’t want to go out or see anyone and our future was looking very different to the one I imagined.
I became Terry’s full-time carer but it wasn’t long before we were both struggling with his diagnosis, which was when our GP referred us to The Hospice of St Francis.
Our whole family experienced amazing care that started when we met Juliet from the community nursing team. She visited us regularly at home, helping manage Terry’s pain and my fears. Juliet arranged for Terry to attend a physiotherapy class at the Hospice – it really helped him to get about as independently as possible.
But by April 2016, Terry needed to be admitted to the Hospice to help with his increasing pain and from the moment we arrived we were made so very welcome. Terry and our family - our two children, five grandchildren and me - all immediately felt so safe, so supported and so well looked after.
The week we stayed in the Hospice was such a special, memorable time. I remember particularly the delicious family Sunday roast cooked for us by the Hospice’s kitchen team and the beautiful gardens full of plants and birds where I took Terry out for walks in his wheelchair. These are memories I will always have, alongside the kindness the doctors and nurses showed to Terry and to all of us every day.
I stayed with Terry on his last night. I got into his bed and sang and talked to him throughout the night. When it came to drawing his last breath, I was there, I was able to hold him close as I have always done.
I credit the Hospice in helping me through the dark hole I found myself in following Terry’s death. I had no idea of the range of help and care services they provide for your whole family following bereavement and that their support continued.
Like many people I was able to have counselling. Each session with my support worker Catherine was full of talking, tears and laughter enabling me to share the grief I couldn’t explain as well as my feelings of anger, fear, hurt and pain. This has been invaluable to me and my family. I don’t want my grief to make their lives any harder without Terry.
I joined Cooking with Chris, a six-week cookery course which brings people who’ve been recently bereaved together and builds their confidence and motivation to eat through cooking. The biggest thing the group has given me is friendship with people who’ve been through the same experience and where it doesn’t matter if you laugh or cry.
It wasn’t just me though. The Hospice was, and is, here for all our family. My daughter Melanie has received valuable advice from the Hospice Children’s Team and one of my granddaughters, Cassie, just 7 at the time, was really struggling because she missed her ‘Bumps’ so much. The Hospice has helped her talk about her feelings and memories and provided special experiences with other children who are also going through loss to show her she’s not alone in feeling sad. Terry, I know, would be proud of us all.
I never expected this to happen to my Terry but when it did, the Hospice helped me move from the darkest place I’ve ever known into the light. The Hospice wrapped me and my whole family in a blanket of love. It was there for us. None of us know when we might need its support.
- A gift of £25 will fund a children’s bereavement care activity such as one of the Pony Days which Cassie attended.
- A gift of £50 will fund an adult’s bereavement support session to help people like me impacted by grief.
This help is available thanks to people like you who support The Hospice of St Francis. Without your help, I don’t know where we would be now and I’m writing to you today to ask if you could make a donation to help ensure that every family in our community can be supported in this amazing way – should they ever need it.
Every donation, no matter what the size, is so vital, so please donate what you can.