David's LivingGrief Story

“Before LivingGrief I had a sense that life was a closed book, but the service has shown me life is full of new possibilities and I have a feeling of openness once more, which I never thought would be possible,” said David Leney, of Felixstowe, who is a LivingGrief service user.

Every year St Elizabeth Hospice cares for more than 4,000 patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney. This care sees the independent Suffolk charity providing free services – whenever and wherever it is needed, whether at home, in the community or at the hospice – to those living with a progressive or life-limiting illness.

As well as clinical care, we provide a range of emotional and wellbeing support through our bereavement support service, LivingGrief. Via face-to-face consultations or phone and video call support. Between April 2022 and September 2023 alone, more than 1,880 people have been supported by this service.

“My wife passed away in July 2021, while under the care of the St Elizabeth Hospice team at our home,” explained David.

“They gave us guidance on how to administer medication, provided support wherever we needed it and because of their support my wife didn’t have to leave our home, which was her wish.

“St Elizabeth Hospice was so good to us both and I am so grateful for the care they gave us. After my wife’s death, they gave me guidance and information regarding bereavement support offered at the hospice and they regularly touched base with me to see how I was.

“It was in early 2023, when the team contacted me about a LivingGrief bereavement support group session they were hosting. Prior to coming under their care, I didn’t realise how far reaching St Elizabeth Hospice’s services were, but since receiving their support I can see they are there for the whole family whenever they need help.

“After receiving the invitation to the group session, I agreed to attend. During the session several speakers described approaches which could help with bereavement. We also had the opportunity to talk with others who were experiencing similar feelings and situations. This was very beneficial.

“At the time I remember thinking, ‘It seems a bit late to seek support’, as it was then a year-and-a-half after my wife’s death; but I am so glad I agreed to attend. LivingGrief showed me it is never too late to seek support and I realised that I still had things I needed to process.

“Following the group session, the LivingGrief team asked me if I would like to attend some one-to-one counselling sessions. Again I wondered if it was too late for me, but they explained it is never too late as there is no fixed timescale to bereavement.

“Like many people, I had an image of loss and the impact bereavement brings, which steadily reduces and, in my mind, after 18 months things should have been easier. However, I now understand, this is a false model. Some things do become easier and others don’t, but you learn to manage these and LivingGrief’s support has shown me how to do this.

“The individual counselling was a game-changer! The counselling was absolutely superb and I quickly developed a great sense of trust.  I remember asking in the second session,Oh no, am I talking too much again?’ The kindly and professional answer was, “No, David. That’s why you are here. This is your time.

“It was my time and my opportunity to talk things through, which was so lovely. Thanks to the skill of the counsellor, I gradually felt that a pressure was being lifted, as I developed a better understanding of what I was experiencing.

“Knowing I was off to a counselling session, a close friend said, ‘I hope it goes well’, I thanked her and explained that I now looked forward to the sessions.  There were some challenging moments – but even these felt positive.

“There were also moments of great satisfaction as I was increasingly able to think of my wife and our wonderful life together with pleasure. As I told several friends, I found the experience liberating. LivingGrief was enabling me to look forward. It was encouraging that a number of friends and family members said they had noticed a difference in me.

“The hospice’s LivingGrief team has provided me with support, but crucially there has been no fixed timeline. They have just been there for me when I have needed them – even two years after my wife’s death.

“As well as the LivingGrief counselling support, I have also used their Walk On bereavement support walking group, which has been brilliant.

“I am so grateful to St Elizabeth Hospice for all that they did for my wife and for me – and what they have continued to do for me. The hospice has helped me look forward and I am keen to support this fantastic charity, in any way I can, in the years to come.”

For more information about St Elizabeth Hospice’s LivingGrief services visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/how-we-can-help/information-and-support/bereavement-support/.

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