National Grief Awareness Week 2023

This year’s National Grief Awareness Week takes place between 2 to 8 December, and we support The Good Grief Trust’s aim to promote a better understanding of grief. At the hospice, our counselling and bereavement service is here to provide specialist support for people experiencing grief following the death of a loved one from a life-limiting illness. 

Julia previously received bereavement support at the hospice following the death of her husband, Steve, who was cared for on our Inpatient Unit at the end of his life. As part of National Grief Awareness Week, Julia has kindly chosen to share her experience with grief and the support she received at the hospice. 

“After Steve passed away, I was offered counselling at the hospice and I kept hold of the card with the details on. A little bit later, I rang to make an appointment. I was nervous about going back to the hospice at first and I wasn’t sure how I would feel, but I actually felt really calm as soon as I walked through the door. 

“Looking back, I think I was still in shock at that time. We had been living with Steve’s cancer for five years, and all of my attention had been on supporting him through his treatment and keeping him safe during the pandemic. When he passed away, I felt a sense of relief that he wasn’t in pain any more.

“I just kept going and going and went into organising mode, throwing myself into the life that had been on hold for five years. After about 6 or 7 sessions at the hospice, I felt like it was the right time to stop the support. 

“I thought I was managing, but about a year later a close friend of mine passed away from the same illness as Steve and it was like being catapulted back to when he was diagnosed. It triggered so much existing anxiety and I couldn’t leave the house or eat. It hit me like a tonne of bricks, and it was like opening Pandora’s box. 

“A friend mentioned she thought I was experiencing grief, but I didn’t think it could set in after all these months. It was like there was no way out, and I kept thinking this was how I should have felt when Steve passed away, not now.”

Julia called the hospice and was able to access our specialist bereavement services within two weeks. 

“It took me a while to understand that the physical and emotional feelings I had were grief. With the support I received at the hospice, I began to understand my grief was only just sinking in. 

“Nothing can prepare you for losing your husband of 35 years, or the emotions of missing the life you shared and the future you thought you had ahead of you. I think grief is a process you have to go through and address. It’s so different for everyone and there’s no time limit or quick fix. 

“For me, receiving counselling at the hospice with someone who specialises in grief has been a massive help. I could be honest about how I was feeling without worrying about upsetting family or friends.

“The hospice counsellor was able to help explain how I was feeling and relate it to grief, which was the reassurance I needed.

“Nothing can stop me from missing Steve or feeling sad that he’s not here, but the hospice has helped me find ways to cope with it. It’s like having a comfort blanket to know the hospice is there if I need them again in the future.”

You can find out more about our counselling and bereavement service on our website.

Photo show Julia and Steve.
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