Coming to terms with a terminal diagnosis can be an incredibly difficult thing to do, especially when you have a family. When Alison Holmes died from breast cancer she left behind her 13-year old daughter, 16-year old son and husband who were completely lost without her.
But staff at St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester stepped in to guide the family through their emotions and help them learn to live with the tragedy.
“Most people think they have been outside their comfort zone but when this happens you get wrenched out of it,” said Andy Holmes.
“You are a million miles out of your comfort zone so that you really are completely at sea. Whereas you thought you were a rational human being capable of decisions, this changes everything.”
Mrs Holmes was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, she had an operation and was treated with chemoptherapy but after being given the ‘green light’ the disease returned.
She attended the hospice as a day patient, but in March 2006 Mrs Homes died at home in Besford, near Pershore. She was 43.
“It was incredibly difficult to talk about it, ” said 45 year old Mr Holmes. “You do want to talk to the kids because they are going through hell. When you talk to the St Richard’s counsellors they say you cannot change it but you can learn to live with it.”
“The first couple of sessions are incredibly tough because you go to places you do not want to be, it is like a safety valve has blown. They just listened and you work it out.”
Ben was a sixth form student at Pershore High School when his mother died. He initially struggled with his studies but after help from St Richard’s he went on to achieve three A levels and on to university.
“If I did not have St Richard’s I would have been stuffed with my exams,”he said.
For his sister, Steph, coping with her mother’s death at the tender age of 13, was immmensely hard. She had family sessions with the counsellors then two years later went back to the hospice for individual support. “I think we would have got there in the end but I do not think we would be finished with everything now in terms of getting the balance back if we hadn’t gone to St Richard’s, ” said Steph.
Mr Homes said, “It is there when you need it but it is not intrusive and they ask for nothing from you. We are eternally grateful for all the support they have given us over the years.”
Article and pictures courtesy of Worcester News