Dan's story

My wife Lucy was diagnosed with Sarcoma cancer at just 39 years old. She had just given birth to our son Reuben, and we also had a little girl called Erin who was only four at the time. Lucy’s illness progressed quite quickly and even after surgery it came back but with complications. We were told the words no one wants to hear, “Nothing more could be done.” We were devastated. The doctors couldn’t even tell how long we had left together as a family. So many thoughts rushed through our heads. How could this be happening? The kids were losing their mum, I was losing my wife. How would we cope?

The thought of being told you are not going to see your children grow up is one of the hardest things any parent could ever hear. Lucy was having radiotherapy at this point but she became very ill incredibly quickly. The cancer had spread to her lungs and she was having trouble breathing and needed support.
Janet, the Social Worker at Dove House came to visit us at home and she invited us to look around Dove House, to get a feel for the hospice and meet the staff. Janet’s visits helped us form a link between our home and the hospice for the children, and this turned out to be a lifeline for us. She helped us with coping strategies, especially for Erin who only understood a little of what was going on and about to happen. I don’t know what we would have done without her. How do you explain to your four year old that her mummy is going to die? How do you prepare her for that?

A few weeks later Lucy stayed at the hospice for three fabulous nights and she absolutely loved it. The staff were incredible. They did everything she needed and more. She had her own room and found the experience very positive; she even had a pedicure! You could hear someone playing the harp from her bed and the atmosphere was so nice and relaxing, in fact, both of us felt looked after despite being in the midst of a really stressful and upsetting time.

I honestly don’t know how people would cope in our situation without the support of the hospice. Dove House helped us get all our things in order. We had taken for granted that we would have plenty of years ahead of us to think about things like writing a will and recording our wishes. We mentioned this to Janet and within an hour a solicitor was there for free because we were a patient at the hospice. Dove House helped us take care of the big and little things, despite everything happening so quickly. We were such a young family and we hadn’t expected to be in this kind of situation, not that I imagine anyone does when you have just had a baby.

The support we received from so many different aspects of the hospice was a lifeline for us. Without it, I don’t know how we would have made it through.

Lucy died at the hospice aged 40, just six months after Reuben was born and five and a half months after she was first diagnosed.

Erin started music therapy at the hospice not long after Lucy died. She was very aware that Mummy had passed away at the hospice and we wanted it to be a place of happiness not just sadness as she grew up and started to understand more.

The Children’s Bereavement Support Group was introduced to us a year after Lucy had died. Having that support made available to us was fantastic. Erin thought she was the only one that had lost her mum so to be able to go to a group where she was around other children who were going through similar experiences helped her so much. She felt like she wasn’t alone anymore.

Reuben was so very little when Lucy died that his support from the hospice wasn’t needed until a couple of years later when he started to ask more questions about his Mummy. Reuben doesn’t have his own memories of his mum which is really hard for him and affects how he grieves for her.

I am so thankful for the Children’s Bereavement Group, it has helped us all so much. Grief is ongoing and looks different for everyone. The hospice has worked with us at our own pace and tailored their support around what we needed,  we couldn’t have asked for anything better.

It took me three years after Lucy had died to be able to process my own grief. I finally felt ready in myself to talk about it so knowing that Dove House was there when I was ready was really important. It helped me more than I could ever express. For me, when Lucy died, I jumped into planning mode, thinking ‘how is it all going to work practically for us and the children?’. So being able to wait until I was ready emotionally to talk through my feelings made such a huge difference.

No one ever wants to have to use the services of a hospice, but I am so grateful for all they have done and continue to do for us. I am also incredibly thankful to all the wonderful people who help raise the money to keep the hospice running. You simply have no idea how amazing you all are and what a difference you have made to me and my family. I will be forever grateful.

We would like to thank Dan and his family for allowing us to share their story in support of our Spring Appeal.

We are hoping to raise £15,000 from this Spring Appeal, an amount which could cover the costs of running these services for the next year. I really hope you are able to help us reach this target to ensure we can continue to be there for families when they are facing the most difficult days. Find out more:

Spring Appeal