In 2017, Julia’s life changed when her husband, Steve, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – a form of blood cancer. For the next five years, Julia supported Steve through the difficulties of ongoing treatment, much of which was during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Spring of 2022, staying at home became difficult, and following a stay in hospital, Julia and Steve made the decision to seek support at the hospice.
Steve was cared for on our Inpatient Unit for almost two weeks before he died.
“It was a hard decision and one that caused a lot of turmoil but as soon as Steve was admitted to the hospice, we felt calm straight away.
“It was obviously a really difficult time but the staff were so accommodating, and they made it as easy for us as it could be in the circumstances.
“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, but 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.”