Sally's story

My dad had been having dialysis for three years and would go twice a week. On one of the visits, he banged his arm. Nobody could believe that just from such a small bang he could have broken his arm, but he had. He was then admitted to hospital when he vomited blood. While on the ward he slipped and broke his other arm and was having investigations into the blood loss. After a full body scan, we received the devastating news that Dad had multiple cancers. It was such a shock. To make things even worse we had only recently lost Mum so when the hospital sat us down and suggested Dove House was a good choice for Dad we weren’t prepared at all. It felt like we were on a rollercoaster but one that we had never willingly gotten on.

The thought of going to a hospice was daunting. It was worlds apart from what we had experienced at the hospital. I wish hospice care had been explained to us properly or that we knew more about what to expect, to prepare us for how different it is from hospital care. All of my feelings just flooded at once.
Dad arrived at Dove House five weeks to the day since Mum had passed.  It was very quiet, everyone and everything was calm. We felt very overwhelmed. A lovely nurse noticed and took me outside to help me process what was going on. She asked me if the Family Support Team could come and see me and that’s how I met the incredible Rebecca. She helped us every step of the way, through every wobble, we would have been lost without her.

I was struggling with the anticipatory grief of losing Dad when we were still grieving Mum. It felt so heavy. We found a camaraderie with the other relatives at the hospice which was invaluable. We became each other’s support network, and it was very needed. It made our situation a little more bearable.
T-shirts were cut in half to make it look like Dad was dressed in bed, how amazing is it that the nurses went that extra mile to make him look like he should have looked. A volunteer even shaved him so he looked like himself again. The hospice couldn’t have done more for us.

Dad then moved into a single room and from then myself and my sister stayed with him. We wanted to be by his side. It was really precious to us that the hospice allowed us to be able to do that.

Everyone showed us such kindness but I will never forget the compassion a volunteer at Dove House showed me one morning when I was really struggling. She made me something to eat and a warm drink and I know it was only marmalade on toast but by gosh did I need that comfort.

We were worried to leave Dad but the nurses explained everything in such a down-to-earth way and made us feel at such ease. We went home to freshen up and they called us when we needed to come back. We knew then that the end was close. Nothing prepares you for losing a parent. Not even losing Mum had prepared us.
We talked and talked to Dad. It helped our hearts heal thinking he could hear us.

It was so peaceful at the end, so tranquil you wouldn’t have even known anyone else was in the hospice. Seven weeks after we said our goodbyes to Mum, we were doing it all over again with Dad.

Mum’s death was incredibly different at the hospital. We were taken to a side room and given a leaflet and sent on our way. At the hospice, we went into the York Room after Dad died. A nurse came in and gave us a hug, offered to call anyone we needed, and made sure we could get home ok. A completely different experience and we are very much grateful.

Since Dad died the Family Support Team has been wonderfully supportive. Keeping in touch with us and helping us walk this awfully sad road again.  One of my daughters even had bereavement counseling too. Dove House continues to be there for us for as little or as long as we need them.