We’re a registered charity at the heart of Cardiff providing medical, nursing and end of life care to patients with life-limiting illnesses in their own homes. However, that’s not all we do.
Formerly George Thomas Hospice Care, we provide support to families while their loved ones are ill (pre-bereavement counselling) but also after they pass away (post-bereavement counselling).
The Foster family from Cardiff know what it’s like to lose someone they love. Tony Foster, husband and Dad of two, was diagnosed with Melanoma and in 2017, the family were referred to City Hospice for support.
Luan Foster, wife of Tony and Mum to Lara and Connor, said that the children really benefitted from seeing Sarah, our Head of Counselling and Bereavement.
“The children used to go to the hospice after school to see Sarah. I was already meeting with her and thought it would really help the children. I was really concerned about what information to tell Lara and Connor so Sarah met them after to school to talk about what was going on. They were given cuddly worry-eaters and were encouraged to write their worries on pieces of paper and pop them in their tummies. Then, at sessions, Sarah would talk through what was worrying them.
I remember after the first meeting the children were shocked at being told the truth. But equally when I asked if they wanted to go back they said they did and that they were glad they knew what was going on. In a way, it was easier that Sarah had talked to the children about their Dad dying, than me telling them. They’re doing so well because we told them the truth.”
The children had more time to spend with their Dad because they knew what was going on. The family had film nights and spent time together.
Sadly, in February 2018, Tony died. They were all devastated by the loss and continued to visit City Hospice for counselling. Lara, 11, and Connor, 13, joined our Children’s Bereavement Group run by the charity for children who’d lost loved ones.
They met lots of new children at the same time as learning about feelings and how to express them. They made Memory Boxes and colourful salt jars to help remember the good times they had with their Dad.
“After the first group, they drew pictures of Tony before he got ill and both of them were really upset but it was good because it brought all their feelings out. The feelings that were raised frightened me but it was all part of giving them permission to let it out.’
The family did get to spend last Christmas with Tony. “Christmas dinner was switched completely for him. We were having curry but he wanted turkey and Yorkshire puddings. So, our family made it for him as it was one of his favourite meals. He had a big, big plate of food and it was lovely that he was able to eat with us too, rather than being upstairs in bed.”
This year was really hard for the family but they’re looking forward to the new year with promise of a new house and a new puppy too!
Luan says that some days can be harder than others but having support has really helped. “It’s not the day to day because you can do the dinner and all the things you have to do. It’s just getting your emotions out and getting that support which has been incredible. Even visiting City Hospice, when you hear the word ‘hospice’, I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time we came. It’s not what you expect because it’s a warm, safe place to be. The children have amazed me at how strong they’ve been and how incredible they are. We couldn’t have done it without Sarah.”