Sarah Gunning pays tribute to her parents Maureen and Alan Tetsill through Light Up A Life every year. Her dad was cared for by our Clinical Nurse Specialists at home, and she says that the bereavement support she received from St Catherine’s helped her to cope with the enormity of losing both of her parents to cancer in the same year.
“My mum died in January 2012 and my dad died that December; by the summer of 2013 I was extremely low and visited my doctors where I was told there was a waiting list for counselling,” Sarah said. “Not long after I received a letter from St Catherine’s with information of their bereavement group. I spent a few hours every couple of weeks with other people who had lost relatives to illnesses like cancer, and the support from the hospice’s dedicated Support Team was just fantastic.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the bereavement group and I was a bit nervous the first time I went. The idea of expressing my feelings to strangers seemed daunting but everyone was so welcoming and the Support Team really put me at ease.
“I realised that all the feelings that I was experiencing were the same as everyone else in the room, and it was a place where I could express my emotions freely. It was an environment where nobody was judged and everybody got a chance to speak if they wanted to, or to just listen.”
Sarah, a mum-of-two from Penwortham, began volunteering with our admin team at the hospice and in her local St Catherine’s charity shop soon after, which is how she heard about Light Up A Life a few years ago.
“For me, St Catherine’s is a really special place and the care and attention that the staff give the patients and their families is outstanding. The hospice is a happy place to visit and everyone is made to feel welcome.
“I attend the Light Up A Life ceremony in the grounds with my sons and we look at my mum and dad’s names in the dedication book, and write a message to hang on the Christmas tree.
“The night is always very special and it’s lovely to see so many people coming together to remember their loved ones.”
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