For all the lights and sparkle Christmas brings it can also be very stressful and it can be even more difficult to cope if you are grieving a loved one.
It may be your first Christmas without them or a few years down the line but this time of year can bring so many different emotions to the surface.
Susie Baker, Head of Counselling at Woking & Sam Beare Hospice has shared some advice that may help you through the festive season.
Bereavement around Christmas can be incredibly hard but it can help to make a plan that you feel comfortable with even if you don’t stick to it in the end.
It is important that you think about what you need at this time, speak to your loved ones about how you are feeling and explain that you may need to take yourself away from the festivities for a while.
The festive period can get very busy so plan some quiet days to take time for yourself this may be quietly at home or going out for a walk.
Old family traditions don’t have to be upheld if someone is missing and it is sometimes healing to change the way you do things. Maybe eat at a different time, go out instead of cooking at home or even go away, it can also help to make some new traditions.
If you do want to keep things the same, then it can be a nice idea to honour the person who is no longer with you maybe with a special bauble on the Christmas tree, lighting a candle so you can take time to remember and reflect, hanging their stocking up for loved ones to fill with letters or share memories together.
Don’t be afraid to cry, you may be worried that if you start you won’t be able to stop, but tears can for some be the emotional release they need and don’t feel guilty or worried about all the things you think you should be doing it’s OK not to be OK.
It is also sometimes useful to know that despite the fact you may feel very alone in your grief, there are many people out there who feel similarly.
Irvin Yalom talks about grieving as feeling like you are a little tug boat bouncing around a stormy ocean in the dark…the only light is a tiny lamp on your mast. However, when your eyes become accustomed to the dark, you look around you and see that there are hundreds of other similar little lamps bouncing alongside you!
10th May 2021
Dying Matters Week – in a good place to die
Dying Matters Awareness Week 10 – 16 May
Where people die is changing. More and more people have been dying at home in recent years, and the pandemic has seen this number leap by tens of thousands.
There is no right or wrong place to die; it will be different for everyone. But is is important for families to think about it, to talk about it and to plan for it. Planning for death is more important than ever in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has taken so many lives at such short notice, and in circumstances beyond our control.
We want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die- physically, emotionally and with the right care in place
Getting there means having some important conversations, and taking some careful decisions. Make sure that you and your loved ones are in a good place.
Below are links to information provided by Hospice UK that may help you and your loved ones start to talk about dying.
For more information about Dying Matters Week click here
13th February 2020
Unique view into life inside the hospice
At the start of 2020 one of our patients Jemily Brown’s (Jem) Husband Tim decided to start an Instagram diary called “Happy Crappy New Year”. This heart felt and at times humorous account give’s an insight into the ups and downs of a young family dealing with cancer and a really unique view into hospice life.
“At the beginning of 2020 when everyone was wishing each other a Happy New Year on social media, I thought no it’s not going to be a happy new year for us 2020 is going to be a real roller coaster” explained Tim “So we came up with the idea of starting the Instagram project, a way that we can look back and see that there were good days along with the bad and make some really special memories”
In 2017 Jem (now 36) was diagnosed with a very rare cancer Pseudomyxoma Peritonei it affects about 2 in a Million people and is known as “Jelly Belly” a cancerous Jelly fills the abdomen and sticks itself to organs. Having undergone a huge 12 hour operation and chemotherapy Jem is now under palliative care.
The Instagram page is full of beautiful photos of Jem, Tim and their daughter Mayana making special memories a 10.5 birthday celebration for Mayana (which was put together in 90 minutes) a baby shower for Jem’s sister in law, a surprise theatre visit for Jem alongside everyday life like Tim’s root canal!
“I didn’t think I would be popping champagne corks from a hospice balcony. It’s just not what most people imagine, it’s not an old dark Victorian building which is full of people dying it’s light and bright and full of life” said Tim “I’ve stayed in far worse hotel rooms than the rooms here at Woking Hospice and been sat on the balcony enjoying the most amazing bacon and egg sandwich!”
The facilities at the Hospice allow visitors to stay overnight meaning that families like Jem, Tim and Mayana can spend precious time together making memories.
“The last weeks have been a real eye opening journey into life at the incredible Woking Hospice, the level of care has blown us away and it has been a real blessing to us as a family. I knew so little about hospices before our stay and I am now so motivated to help make others less scared of the thought of them”
If you would like to help us to continue providing this unique care to families like Jem, Tim and Mayana you can make a donation here.
Jemily Brown passed away peacefully at Woking Hospice on the 18 Feb 2020.
7th January 2020
David and Vanessa’s wedding wish comes true
On the 11 December a very special wedding took place at St Paul’s Church in Addlestone when David Kingston and his Fiancée Vanessa Smith took their wedding vows. The couple who live in Chobham have been together for ten years and engaged for nine of those.
David who is now under the care of the Hospice was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer at the beginning of September and underwent two rounds of chemotherapy. When the couple were told time was short they wanted to get married as soon as possible so with the help of the hospice the local community, friends and family came together to make the day possible.
“When I met with David and Vanessa for the first time David’s wish was to give Vanessa the wedding day of her dreams. Despite being so unwell he was focused on their special day and I could see how devoted they are to each other. It was fantastic to see the support from family, friends and local community, we had the whole day planned in about two weeks! It’s always wonderful to be able to help our patients to fulfill their wishes and I’m so proud that this is the fourth wedding I’ve supported whilst working for the hospice”. Caroline Hodgson Social Work Lead Woking & Sam Beare Hospices
The couples friends and family helped bring the day together Vanessa’s friend Janie lent her a wedding dress, her something borrowed, David’s sister Ange Shine was the photographer on the day, Sarah Hatch made their wedding cake, Ashleigh Philips did all the hair and make-up and Sandra Taylor and Heidi Fast created the bouquets for Vanessa and her bridesmaids.
Local businesses also offered their support including Liberty Cars providing the couple with their wedding car for the day. “It has been an absolute pleasure to have been able to assist, massive congratulations to David and Vanessa” commented Stuart from Liberty Cars.
The Vicar Rev Ben Beecroft of St Pauls in Addlestone married the couple and had met with David and Vanessa in the lead up to the wedding to join in prayer before the big day. David’s best man long-time friend of 25 years Jim Buckingham watched as Vanessa was walked down the aisle by her best friend Georgina.
The reception was held at local football club Abbey Rangers FC who kindly provided the venue with Sara Pearson, Rachel and Gemma Whitehead providing the catering which included a pick and mix table for the younger guests to enjoy and David Jackson was DJ for the night making sure all the guests filled the dance floor.
Around 50 guests attended the Chelsea themed wedding David is a massive Chelsea fan and has supported them for 60 years the cake, flowers and table decorations were all Chelsea coloured and even the wedding car sported a Chelsea blue ribbon. David was also presented with a personalised signed picture of Frank Lampard which he proudly carried around with him all day.
Vanessa commented “David and I would like to thank everyone that helped us to make our wedding so special we had a fantastic day thank you everyone”
Please help us continue to provide this care and support by making a donation here
12th December 2019
Delivering care throughout Christmas
Our nurses will continue to deliver care to all our patients who need it over the holiday season. Our Hospice Care at Home Team, also known as CoSI [coordinated, safe and integrated] look after patients usually in the last 6-8 weeks of their lives in their own homes, and for them Christmas will mean business as usual. CoSI Team Leader Lesley Wilson explains:
“For us it’s the same service no matter whether it’s Saturday, Sunday or Christmas day. Staff are on duty throughout the whole festive period including our night service on Christmas night.
Some families have a busy time with family and friends visiting, but we’re sensitive to this and will visit later in the day or give them a support call instead. There is always someone at the end of the phone. Some patients are on their own, and we will of course prioritise them.
We never know whether we’ll have a busy or quiet day, we take it as it comes.Most people will hope for snow, but we’re always happy if it doesn’t come, as the weather is always our greatest challenge during the winter. We are however lucky to have teamed up with Surrey 4×4, who will be on standby in case we need extra help in the snow to reach the patients in their homes, as was the case a few years back.
Everyone in the team will be working an unpopular shift over Christmas and New Year. We put a list up with the different shifts that need covering and everyone volunteers to take a turn in working at some point over the holiday period . We will have our CoSI ‘Christmas do’ in January instead of in December which is always so busy.”
The CoSI team are skilled registered nurses and health care assistants who offer person centred nursing and personal care, advice and support at home. They work closely together complementing the care led by CSH District Nursing Service. This care can be for a few days, or a period of weeks depending upon the individuals needs. CoSI care is available for patients registered with a North West Surrey CCG GP.
Patients, staff and friends of the hospice are currently busy creating homemade gifts as well as arts and crafts for their upcoming day care Christmas sale on 19 November. Occupational Therapist Sue Strudwick explains:
“I started it 10 years ago and it has grown ever since. We do it every year to enable patients, who otherwise may not be able to get to the shops, to get presents for their loved ones.
For the past five weeks we have been busy making gifts but people are also bring in items that they donate for our Christmas sale. Everyone is really pulling together and staff, volunteers and patients are helping to create everything from gift tags to knitted chocolate orange covers. We have made table gifts, cat and dog gifts, stocking fillers and one of our volunteers has created some beautiful hampers that we will raffle off too.
Any leftover gift tags will be available to purchase at the Christmas Wrapping event in the Peacocks Centre, Woking, 20-21 December and all money raised from the Christmas sale will go towards Day Care activities and events.
Find out more about our Christmas wrapping events and other festive ways you can help support the hospice here.