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“My jigsaw was shattered when Caroline died”

Your support allows us to continue to care for people after their loved one has died. Robert Stone had bereavement counselling with our hospice after his wife Caroline’s death. Here, he shares more.

“Caroline had this incredible presence. We were totally different, I’m quite quiet and reserved and Caroline was gregarious, but we were together 37 years.

Caroline first discovered a pain in her chest in January 2019. She had chemotherapy and radiotherapy but in January 2020 her pain came back. By July, cancer had really got her in its grip – she was in incredible pain and distress.

We were told Caroline had three months left but, in the end, it was nine days. She died at home on Wednesday 22 July 2020. I was with her holding her hands

After Caroline died, a few people suggested bereavement counselling

I was assessed by the hospice and started counselling sessions with Liz by telephone. I’d wander around the house as Liz and I chatted.

Liz described my bereavement like a jigsaw. My jigsaw was shattered when Caroline died but that jigsaw is completed. My picture’s changed so I have to re-create a new jigsaw

Liz also discussed how bereavement is like a bear hug. There are three options – you can back away, face up to it, or charge into it. It turns out I did the charging, which is unusual, but counselling helped me open up to my bereavement.

No matter how much you kick yourself or wonder ‘what if?’ you did the best that you could, with the time and information that you had.

I never expected counselling to do what it did for me

I was brought up in the era of ‘You’re a man, you cope’ but counselling changed my way of thinking

Even now I measure every day from Caroline’s death

Before I had counselling I found a Valentine’s card from Caroline that had the lyrics from the song ‘You to me are everything’. Finding that wrecked me and I destroyed the card almost straight away.

At Christmas I found an old Christmas card from Caroline. Opposed to being upset, I put it in pride of place on my mantelpiece. I’ll keep it forever now. I think that shows the difference in me pre and post counselling

I’m still grieving but I’m coping

When Caroline was ill, we had a “one day at a time” mantra. It’s all we thought of, and all you can do when you’re living with someone with a terminal illness.

I’ve been using it since her death as a guiding light – Just take one day at a time.”

If you would like to read more people’s experiences of hospice care please click here or to make a donation so we can help more families in future please click here or call 01293 447361.

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