“The counselling support
I received from the Hospice was very important, and I am not sure I would
be in the place that I am now without it."
Since his father passed away in September 2019, Tom has been receiving emotional support from our Patient and Family Support Team to help him through his bereavement. Read his story below, or watch the film, as Tom talks openly about how our support is helping him come to terms with the loss of his father.
30-year old Tom lives with his partner Emma in Binfield, the Berkshire village where he was born and raised by parents Sue and Keith, along with his three brothers Nick, Chris and Will. Tom said: “My parents met at Aston University and lived in various places together before settling in Binfield and the local area over 30 years ago. My Mum worked for Marks and Spencer before leaving to have us boys. My Dad was a civil engineer and spent his career project managing large construction projects in London.”
In 2003, Tom’s father Keith was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which was successfully treated, but the cancer returned twelve years later and spread to other areas of his body. Speaking of his dad’s illness, Tom said: “Dad’s main symptom was tiredness; other than some side effects from chemotherapy I don’t believe he was ever really in much pain. I think he was lucky in that element. But I do think he suffered more mentally rather than physically throughout it all.”
Keith received chemotherapy and other treatments for his illness at hospitals in London but remained as an outpatient at home in Binfield. In August 2019, he was admitted to hospital for 10 days after experiencing some complications with his health. Tom said: “It became clear the complications were occurring as my Dad’s body was getting weaker and in fact, we didn’t have much time left. We became determined to get Dad home, so that his last days, however many there were, would be spent at the house he had lived in for over 25 years. Without Thames Hospice this couldn’t have happened. “With the assistance of Thames Hospice, we managed to get Dad home on 6 September 2019. The Hospice provided us with a bed and all the equipment we would need in order to be able to care for Dad at home. The Hospice’s Community Team visited us regularly and were always at the end of the phone if we needed them.
“My Dad passed away in the morning of 10 September 2019 surrounded by all his family. After informing the team at the Hospice, they came out to the house, dressed Dad in his best pyjamas and set him out in the bed; he really looked at peace. This allowed us to spend special time with him before the undertakers arrived.”
Shortly after Keith passed away, Thames Hospice offered Tom and his family bereavement counselling support. The charity has a professionally trained team of paid and volunteer counsellors to help patients and their families who are experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties, during an illness or after the death of a loved one.
Tom realised he needed that emotional support, and started one-on-one counselling with a counsellor at the Hospice. Tom explains: “I wanted to give myself the best possible chance to be able to deal with what had happened. The counselling support I received from the Hospice was very important, and I am not sure I would be in the place that I am now without it. I have had my own mental health challenges in the past, so I knew it was important to get help.
"The counsellor I had was brilliant; she helped me talk about the things I needed to talk about and I received assurance that what I was feeling and thinking was ‘normal’. I found it very hard to speak to my family at the time about my feelings as I didn’t want to upset them. One sentence the counsellor said to me stuck with me – ‘no one can be any sadder than they are now, so speak to them’.”
Tom’s counselling sessions took place at the Hospice. He said: “You could feel the warmth of the place as soon as you walked in, it wasn’t sterile like a hospital. It was a very inviting place to be and I felt that people cared.”
Because of Tom’s positive experience his three other brothers all decided to have counselling, something that they may otherwise not have done.
Tom decided to share his story to encourage others to speak about their grief and emotions. He said: “I want to share my story so people of my age who have gone through a similar situation might have something to relate to. There isn’t a manual about grief, and in my opinion, it certainly isn’t how it is portrayed on TV. I think mental health for males around my age is still somewhat of a taboo. We don’t talk.
“I want to let people know that it is okay to seek help, and by getting support it could be one of the best things you do. I know from my own experience, having counselling has put me in a better place to have the tools to deal with losing my dad.”
He also wanted to use his story to raise awareness of the Hospice and the services we provide. Tom said: “Thames Hospice gives families like mine the opportunity to spend the last days with their loved ones without having to worry about anything. The services and support they provide can make even the worst situation that little bit better. The experience I have been through would have been vastly different without the support of the Hospice.”
To anybody else grieving the loss of a loved one, Tom advises: “You have to talk to each other and support each other, as everyone will experience different things. If you can, speak to a professional like Thames Hospice.”
We're here for you!
If you or a family member would like to speak to the Thames Hospice Patient and Family Support Team about emotional support, please call 01753 842121 or see our Emotional Support page.
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