22nd March 2018

Hospice ‘helped put my life back together’

A Worcestershire career civil servant says counselling by St Richard’s Hospice ‘helped put her back together’ after the death of her beloved husband.

Jane Murphy’s husband Paul died at the Worcester-based hospice just over a year ago, aged just 51. The couple had been together for 31 years and Jane was devastated by bereavement.

She is encouraging other bereaved people to take the opportunity to benefit from counselling if it is offered.

Jane said, “I lost my precious husband Paul after he suffered an horrendous five months of a physically disfiguring mouth cancer. In addition to the devastation of bereavement, I was struggling to recall any of the wonderful memories that Paul and I had created over the 30 happy years that we had been together.

“Those memories had been replaced with the horrific experience of us both trying to come to terms with the vicious impact of cancer. After 12 months of counselling support from a St Richard’s Hospice counsellor, Lucinda, my wonderful memories have returned and I am beginning come to terms with what happened.”

Jane added, “My counsellor recognised early on that I appreciated hearing about the potential cycle of bereavement and she skilfully helped me process the bad memories by encouraging me to talk through those thoughts that I had consciously decided to avoid ever facing again. She is a first class listener who intervenes in a timely and appropriate manner and her professional approach was most appreciated. With her help I now know that, with the help and support of my family and friends, I can continue my recovery and consider my future in a different light.”

Jane had spent 42 years working as a civil servant and had only been retired for one month before Paul’s devastating diagnosis. Jane had being looking forward to having more time at home after spending so much time away with her job.

“My friends said, you have lots of people you can talk to so why do you need to see a counsellor? But it was someone separate and who I felt I could say anything to. We had no children of our own but Lucinda made me realise everything I do have and to focus on the positives. The sessions started with unbelievable tears but it was helpful to be reassured what I was feeling was normal.

“I could not have got through the past 12 months without Lucinda’s support and my appreciation extends to the counselling service and to St Richard’s Hospice as a whole. They all do an amazing job and helped both Paul and I through the most difficult time in our lives – I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

“I would say if someone has the opportunity to have counselling then give it a try. What is there to be scared of?”

Paul Murphy was sales manager for a Coventry plastics firm and an avid sportsman all of his life and was still enjoying playing on the front row for Worcester and Droitwich rugby clubs. The couple lived in Bevere, Worcester. Jane said, “Everybody loved Paul, he was a big fit man with a huge personality and I adored him – it was unconditional love.”

St Richard’s Hospice Family Support Team includes social workers, counsellors, child support workers and Citizens Advice specialists who offer support in a variety of ways to meet each family’s needs. Patients and those closest to them are offered the opportunity to talk about their concerns and discuss coping strategies on a one-to-one basis. They can also attend support groups and meet others who are going through something similar.

St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative and end of life care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their loved ones. Each year the hospice team supports more than 3,000 patients, family members and bereaved people in Worcestershire.

The hospice strives to provide the best medical, practical, emotional and social support they can to help people live life to the fullest, as independently as they can, for as long as they can. They care for people with a range of illnesses including heart failure, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease as well as cancer.   St Richard’s Hospice recently launched the Build 2020 Appeal to expand and redevelop the existing building at Wildwood Drive, enabling more patients and families to be cared for in Worcestershire. For more information about Build 2020 visit www.strichards.org.uk/build2020