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Losing a loved one can be so difficult and present families with such difficult times. Karyn Olivari was someone who lost her husband to a brain tumour in October 2018 and is now holding a Gin Night in his memory and taking part in our City Hospice Sparkle Walk in September. Here’s her story…

“We’d always lived life to the full and loved our holidays. When Stan was diagnosed with Glioblastoma in April 2017, that didn’t stop. In fact, we went on seven holidays including Croatia, Spain, we went on a cruise and, went back to Croatia again later in the year. We did lots of things we wanted to do until he couldn’t do them anymore.”

After keeping his sense of humour and love of life alive throughout his diagnosis, Stan sadly, on 28th October 2018, aged 54, passed away.

“I miss him so much. It’s been nine months but it’s still hard. He was an amazing person. He spent his whole illness worried about everyone else and how we were coping. It wasn’t about him. It was never about him. It was always about us as a family. We’d been together for 20 years but only got married six years ago.

Between them, Karyn and Stan have five grown-up children and a granddaughter, Bethany, who Stan absolutely adored. “She’s only seven and it’s been really hard for her. She used to call him ‘Stanpy’ and she’s really struggled losing him. She’s had counselling at City Hospice which has really helped her. When he died, she just stopped talking about him.”

Karyn's City Hospice story: Remembering Stan

With the help of counselling, Bethany talks about him again. She had 1-2-1 sessions with Sarah, our Head of Counselling and Bereavement, and was then part of our Children’s Bereavement Group.

“I said to her, ‘Nanny likes talking about Stanpy and it doesn’t make me sad if we talk about happy memories.’ So now, she’s showing her friends photos of her and Stanpy and telling them about the times they had. It’s amazing. I think she thought she’d upset me by talking about him, but she didn’t.”

Stan’s death was really hard on his two children, Sophie and Simon too. “Stan was so proud of them both. He had a motto that he lived by. In the words of U2, ‘It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away’. He had this inscribed on a watch for his daughter Sophie and she tries so hard to live by those words in Stan’s memory.”

Karyn's City Hospice story: Remembering Stan

The family had lots of support from City Hospice. “Both of us used to go to Cheryl for Reflexology. Stan loved Reflexology and when Sinji, your Cardiff Met student, was with you, she came to see Stan when he was bed-bound, four days before he died. He really looked forward to it. He also looked forward to seeing Dr Margred Capel, who was amazing, just like Superwoman! She made a horrific situation easier to deal with. We’d see her for an hour a week and Stan would ask ‘Am I seeing Margred today?’ He’d look forward to seeing her.”

We also had visits from Terri and the team of City Hospice nurses as he died at home. We had amazing support and we still continue to.”

Karyn is still having counselling with Sue and wants to do what she can to help City Hospice. “I feel, when I come to the hospice, like it’s my safe place. Most people think negative things about the word ‘hospice’ which we did the first time we came. Stan said ‘I can’t believe I’m going to a hospice!’ But both of us came to really like it. We looked forward to coming. He said one day ‘Who knew we’d look forward to going to a hospice?!’”

I can’t imagine how much harder it would’ve been without City Hospice. It was a mixture of Dr Margred Capel, the reflexology, the counselling and then eventually, the nurses as well. Just all round amazing.”

Inspired by Stan, Karyn is holding an exciting Gin Night to raise money for City Hospice. There’ll be cocktails, tapas, live music and a raffle. Tickets cost £20 with a free cocktail and tapas included. If you’d like to support Karyn’s Gin Night, it’s on 24th October 2019 at CFeleven, Cathedral Road, Cardiff, please contact Karyn on 07790 905 287.

A huge thank you to Karyn for sharing her story with us.

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