“The Linden Centre helped me to cope with losing my wife to cancer with calmness and strength. The support I received enabled me to become the person I needed to be to look after her and my family during that difficult time.”

My wife Michelle passed away in Summer 2017. She was 46 and had lived with her diagnosis of terminal cancer for two and a half years.

Michelle regularly visited the day therapy centre and had strong support from Ruth Quinn, a spiritual care coordinator, and the rest of the Trinity team. We managed to fulfil Michelle’s wish to pass away at home, with the help of Trinity’s Hospice at Home team and the district nurses. It was where Michelle wanted to be, she felt calm and safe there and our friends and family were able to be around, that was important for us all.

We knew how hospice care could help Michelle, having lost her Mum here at Trinity 20 years ago, but what I learned since that time was how Trinity and the Linden Centre could help me.

You’re the last to see the impact these experiences have on you personally, but during the early stages of Michelle’s illness I was struggling, physically and mentally. I felt I had a duty to be strong, after all, I wasn’t the one with a terminal illness. Friends suggested that I should get some help, but I was sceptical, resistant. It felt like I was admitting defeat, like we were losing. I found it hard to see how anyone could understand how I was feeling, or how anything could improve.

Michelle arranged my first appointment at the Linden Centre for me, I don’t think anybody else could have convinced me to go! I met Marilyn and I explained my situation. I shared all my anxiety, fears and feelings. I was open and honest, saying that I didn’t think she’d be able to help me, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Over time, they helped me learn to understand my feelings, to relax, to accept the impact this was having on my life. To work out what was important, to keep going and recognise we were doing a great job, something I struggled to see. Marilyn helped me realise I wasn’t going crazy but that my feelings were normal for someone going through what we were facing into as a family. I was grieving in advance, and I began to understand these emotions with professional guidance and support from the experts, and always with care and compassion.

It’s only been a few months since she passed away, yet because of the support I received, I am confident and proud to talk about what has happened to us. My son, Joe and I have grown as individuals, and I’m sure Michelle would approve!

I will be eternally grateful for what the Linden Centre did for me. Marilyn gave me the strength to do the right things at the right time and I will always remember that. I am looking forward to supporting the great work the Linden Centre does in the future as a volunteer.