Charlene's story

At 24 years old I was caring for both my mum and dad, they both were dying with cancer. I think I was so busy with the logistics that come with caring for not just one but both of them that I didn’t have time for me, to process what was going on and or prepare myself for how I would cope when they died.
Caring for both my parents was hard. I don’t think people truly realise how hard it is until suddenly you are in that situation. It’s not a choice, you just do it because it’s what they wanted and needed.
When my mum died I didn’t have time to grieve. My anxiety was through the roof, and I didn’t know what to do. One of the MacMillian nurses suggested Dove House and it just clicked, I was so low, I needed to be able to get everything out and process how I was really feeling. The Family Support Team at the hospice started supporting me at the height of the pandemic with phone calls and WhatsApp messages. Knowing Dove House was there at the end of a message really helped me to cope especially when I didn't think I could go on. All I wanted to do was grieve for my mum but I couldn't, I had to keep going and care for my dad. I don't think I would have been able to do that without Dove House’s support.
My dad was a proud man and didn’t want anyone but family caring for him, but I needed help. Not to care for him but for me, for someone to talk to that wasn’t my family when my thoughts went dark, to show me I could carry on when all I wanted to do was run away. Dove House was there for me so that I could be there for my dad.
Fast forward three months later and my dad died too. The walls around me came crashing down and suddenly I was alone. The house that was once so noisy with all three of us in was suddenly silent and I just couldn’t bare it.
Losing both of my parents so close together was devastating. I felt very isolated in my grief, I struggle to talk to my wider family, I just couldn’t open up and share how I was really feeling.
I would give anything to have them back, to watch them grow old like you expect to do. There are so many milestones in my life I haven’t got to yet and now don’t have my mum and dad to share them with.  There are so many thoughts and questions that run through my head - how do I cope with losing both parents? How do I keep going forward in life without the people who made me, the people I thought I would have more time with? If I didn’t have Janet at Dove House to share those thoughts with, I don’t think I would have shared them with anyone and they would have eaten away at me. I know if I had kept everything bottled up I would have cracked.
Janet made me feel heard, she showed me how to express my thoughts and be comfortable saying anything without feeling judged. I needed that. I can laugh and I can cry as I know that at the hospice I am in a safe place. Without that I would be a shell of a person, I would still be in fight or flight mode.
You don’t expect to have the weight of the world on your shoulders at 26 years old. I am so thankful that the hospice didn’t stop supporting people like me during the pandemic. Dove House adapted their care and made it work and I can’t even begin to think what would have happened to me if they hadn’t.

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