I came across the Hospice after I lost my husband in 2006 in a car accident. After my husband was killed my sister was given the number for the ‘Elephants never forget’ service by the school she works at. Because Michael didn’t die from a terminal illness at the Hospice we wouldn’t have known about it or anything else that’s out there.
My sister rang the Hospice and spoke to one of the social workers who rang me on the off chance at work. I had to be at work when they rang. I was having a very bad day but made an appointment for one of the Hospice’s social workers to come and see me.
It allowed me to talk about all those feelings you don’t want to talk about with anyone else. I found it absolutely invaluable because you store things up through your everyday normal life and you think you’re going mad. The social worker was fantastic; she was never judgemental and always had helpful tips on how to deal with things in your personal life as well as with the kids. I never felt like I was just waffling on and I could talk about something again and again and again.
I didn’t realise until after but it wasn’t until I saw her walking up the drive that I was able to unburden everything I needed to. When she left I would take a deep breath and carry on again until the next time. I never felt that I couldn’t ring her or any of the other ladies to speak to them. They are all so very kind. It was lovely.
She told me about the monthly support group in the evening and it took me 12 months to go. I thought it was going to be ‘Hi my name is Ann and I’m a widow’ but it wasn’t. They are just such a lovely bunch of people. There is a core of us that have become really good friends.
The group was great, sometimes we’d cry and sometimes we’d roar with laughter at stupid things and the stupid things people say. We also helped each other with our children as they’re all different ages we could give each other tips with how to deal with things.
I got to a point where I didn’t need to go there anymore but I love to come to the family events because they get to see how we’re doing and we get to say hello.
A lot of people think that counselling isn’t for them. I was one of them but I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.
Since Ann’s husband died, services across the county for bereaved families have increased. The Hospice Elephants Never Forget service is still meeting the needs of families where death is anticipated or has occurred due to life limiting illness. Other services now exist to help families where there is a sudden and/or traumatic death. The Hospice service will always offer advice and information to any bereaved family whatever the cause of death, and direct them to appropriate help.