Every year St Elizabeth Hospice cares for more than 3,000 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, the hospice also provides a range of emotional and wellbeing support through its bereavement support service, LivingGrief. Via face-to-face consultations or phone and video call support, between January and September 2022 alone, more than 338 people have been supported by this service
One person who received support from the hospice’s emotional and wellbeing team, between 2021 and 2022, is Joanna Brown whose mum, Marion Miller, received end-of-life care at the St Elizabeth Hospice inpatient unit until her death, aged 69-years-old, on 24th January 2021.
Joanna, who lives in Ipswich, said: “Mum was a very loving, kind person with a great sense of humour and a real zest for life. She enjoyed Tai Chi classes a couple of times a week and volunteering for the Red Cross, but most of all she enjoyed spending time with her family and friends.
“Mum had been living with secondary cancer for five or six years, but it was still a shock when she passed away and nothing could have prepared me for the huge lose I felt.
“Arranging Mum’s funeral helped occupy my mind but following her funeral, when things calmed down, I found it very, very difficult. It was at this point I reached out to the LivingGrief team.
“I first heard of the LivingGrief service, and the holistic care for the whole family the hospice provides, after a member of the nursing team provided me with information of further support available to me, if I needed it.
“I initially received counselling support from the LivingGrief team over the phone, due to Covid-19 meaning you couldn’t meet in person, and I also didn’t feel ready to return to the hospice after Mum’s passing. However, over time, I have since begun face-to-face sessions at the hospice which have been very helpful.
“Sandy (a counsellor from the LivingGrief team) provided me with amazing support and I felt at ease talking to her straight away. We connected instantly and Sandy’s ability to listen and provide guidance during grief was a great help. She brings so much humour to our conversations which is really important. One moment I would be crying and the next laughing, but it all helps you work through the grieving process.
“Sandy was very understanding and supportive and listened to all aspects of my life, not just my thoughts relating to Mum. Knowing I had someone there who I could talk to, saying exactly how I felt without being judged, was so beneficial.
“Before coming to the hospice, I felt it was a sad, dark and mysterious place. However, since coming here with Mum, and through my own experiences of the LivingGrief service, I know it is a place with lots of laughter and a warm environment. Yes, it can be sad, but the staff are amazing and so kind.
“LivingGrief has helped me tremendously through a very tough time. I would absolutely recommend their support to anyone and I can’t thank the hospice team enough for what they did for my Mum and have done for me.”
For more information about St Elizabeth Hospice’s LivingGrief services visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/how-we-can-help/information-and-support/bereavement-support/.