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The hospice provided Stephen and our family with so much care and love

Last week, Emma’s brother-in-law Stephen passed away at our hospice. Here she shares more about how our hospice supported Stephen and her whole family.

“St Catherine’s recently cared compassionately for my brother-in-law Stephen and our family

The St Catherine’s team have helped my sister Lucy through such a difficult time. They’ve made going through hell not only bearable but also full of love. Stephen passed away on Saturday morning at the hospice.

Nothing has ever been too much trouble

When Stephen started to deteriorate the team were really honest with us so we knew exactly what was happening, but they were also so kind and respectful. They let us know the week before that those who wanted to say goodbye to Stephen should do so. This meant all his close family and friends managed to visit him.

On the Friday night, nurses set up the visitor room for me and Lucy so we could sleep at the hospice overnight

Being together at the hospice reminded me of the sleepovers Lucy and I had when we were younger when we used to sleep in each other’s rooms. Staff couldn’t do enough for us. Nothing was too much trouble and when one of the nurses went past, she jokingly said, “no talking too loudly you two!” There was humour throughout and even with everything that was happening this still made us laugh

The hospice felt like home

Nurses brought us cups of tea, and we were sometimes there for afternoon tea and lovely cakes, and there was real respect from them when they were talking with Stephen. One of the nurses talked a lot about how Stephen had such kind eyes.

He wasn’t always the easiest patient as he often wanted to get out of bed, and we had to stop him, so he didn’t fall, but it was traumatic as he was so young. He just kept going – he kept fighting because he was only 48 years old

Everyone who needed to come and say goodbye to Stephen was given chance to and we were very appreciative of that

On the Friday morning, the team had let us come in very early, and they brought Lucy, our brother and me bacon sandwiches. Stephen had his own room, so we were able to play his music even when he was asleep.

We kept playing a song on repeat that he and Lucy had danced to together and it felt really personal. When Lucy wanted one of his Billabong T-shirts to dress him in that had been in the wash, nurses went to find it for her. There was just lots and lots of kindness

After Stephen died one of the nurses gave us a cup of tea. Lucy told me it was exactly like Stephen would make tea for her, so I asked them to make her another. When I thanked the nurses for all they’d done caring for Stephen, one of them told me, “Stephen’s a lovely guy, he makes me laugh.” Things like that really matter.

Stephen wanted to stay at home but as he became less well Lucy had to make the decision that the hospice was the right place for him

Being at the hospice was so much better than any other alternative. Lucy could be with him as much as she wanted, and they were so well looked after. Stephen was peaceful and comfortable, which he wasn’t at home, and the hospice had the same feeling of care as being at home. It was unique and special.

St Catherine’s was as close to the feeling of a caring home as anything can get, it was amazing

My brother and I felt like we needed to do something to give back

We wanted to show our gratitude for everything the hospice has done for Stephen and our family, and Ride Reigate felt like the right thing

When we found out St Catherine’s was the main charity partner for the event we thought we’ve got to do it.

We’ve set up a family team called Steve’s Stormtroopers

We nicknamed Stephen ‘Storm’ as he was such a character and sometimes he would just say things how they are, creating his own kind of humorous “storm”. He was a Stars War fan too and used to make cool art out of star wars Lego mini figures

Lucy told him we were doing the ride for him and everything about it has meaning. It’s taking place the day before Stephen’s birthday; we’ll be wearing orange for St Catherine’s but that’s also one of Stephen’s favourite colours as autumn was his favourite time of year and Stephen used to cycle a lot himself before he was diagnosed.

There’s 10 of us taking part between the ages of 8 and 75, including Stephen’s 16-year-old son. My 75-year-old Dad, Stephen’s father-in-law, will probably be the one who finds the ride easiest despite being the oldest as he cycles a lot! He got on so well with Stephen.

We’re cycling as a team who all knew and loved Stephen

We’re not aiming for a particular time or anything.

We’ve decided the main thing is being out in the country and cycling together as a team who all knew and loved Stephen

It doesn’t matter how long the ride takes us; it’s about doing it. We’ve told the 8-year-old in the team there’s ice cream at 18 km which is good incentive for them!

The ride has given us a focus and it feels special, all the more so for being near Stephen’s birthday. It’s something that really feels meaningful. When we told Lucy what we were doing it gave her something to smile about and it’s a comforting thing to be doing

You don’t ever want to have to experience a hospice, but St Catherine’s is there for families as well as the patients

My sister never thought she’d become a widow in her mid-40’s but the hospice has been somewhere that’s provided her, Stephen and our family with so much care and love. People knew Stephen at the hospice and having them care for him made things feel less lonely for her.

St Catherine’s is like someone holding your hand through the worst possible period

The team helped make sure there was no trauma. Lucy was able to deal with the situation with less layers of worry – they do an incredible job. You wonder if you didn’t have the support of the hospice how something like this could affect you

My 10-year-old son never visited Stephen at the hospice, but he’s been channelling his grief by drawing designs of hospices to help people

He knows what a hospice is and what it does at his young age and he has picked up on the kind of atmosphere a hospice has from me talking about it. In the hospice he designed, he created an autumn room in autumn colours because he knows his Uncle Stephen loved autumn. Things like that and taking part in Ride Reigate are beautiful ways to remember him.”

To support Emma and her family with their cycling challenge please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stevesstormtroopers

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