After caring for her husband Peter through years of debilitating illness, Ann Durkin finally had to watch him die through a glass screen, unable even to hold his hand. 

The trauma of that loss during the early days of the Covid pandemic in April 2020 and then the loneliness of grieving in isolation, kept apart from family and friends by the strict lockdown rules, left Ann struggling.

She realised she needed help and turned to Katharine House Bereavement Support Team.

"I thought I was doing ok but six months on I realised I was really struggling," recalls Ann, who had spent years caring for her husband, who suffered from a rare form of Motor Neurone Disease.

"I had never opened up to anyone before about Peter’s long illness and the shocking circumstances of his death, so having someone at the end of the phone to listen to me was so valuable.

"When I first started talking to my support worker, I hadn’t even been able to pick up the phone to call my friends I was feeling so low. I had acute physical pain throughout my body because of everything I’d gone through.

"I never actually met my support worker, as Covid meant we couldn’t meet face to face, but our regular phone calls over about eight months meant so much to me.

"She reassured me there is no right or wrong way to grieve and suggested special techniques, which really helped. There was never any judgement of what I said or how I felt and it was so reassuring.

"When you talk to family or friends you are emotionally connected to them and concerned for them, so you don’t want to unload on them," Ann says.

"Often people just don’t want to talk about death, but this support meant I could share my experience and sharing somehow made it easier to cope."

Ann and Peter had already experienced support from Katharine House Hospice (KHH) over six years. Peter had spent time at the hospice having respite care, which had freed up Ann to take much-needed holidays and spend time with her two daughters and grandchildren.

When he moved to a home for nursing care for the final two years of his life, Ann never forgot the support she had received from KHH and was so grateful to find yet more help after Peter’s death.

"KHH was always there for us, it was lifeline for both Peter and I all the way through.

"There is still a big gap in my life without Peter, I always thought he was the person I would grow old with, but thanks to the help I’ve had, I am in a very different place now.

"I have lots of plans, I want to move house, take on new challenges and enjoy time with my family."

Byeline: Anne Adams

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