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The Wood Family Story
Hannah, Lynda and Roy have lost a very important person from their lives. John Wood was a loving grandad husband and dad.
People are surprised when I tell them I'm having counselling to help me cope with my dad's death. In the weeks after he - my role model and best friend - died, people were hugely supportive. But that quickly wears off as their lives continue as normal.
'Man up, deal with it,' people said. But I couldn't.
Months down the line; I have turned a corner. My daughter has the support she needs. And I have my mum back. My dad lived for his family. My kids adored him and he and my mum were happily married for nearly 50 years.
He was my superhero. When I was young, he worked hard as a lorry driver, spending nights away from his family to make sure food was on the table. There was nothing he couldn't do. He was a practical man and he'd know the solution to every problem.
That was until he was told the pain he'd been experiencing in his lower back was caused by a tumour on his pelvis. So began trips to hospital, appointments, scans. For three years the treatment stopped any growth, but then they found traces on his lung and by the end of 2016, the drugs he'd been taking were no longer working.
We managed to celebrate my mum's 70th together as a family and we had our final trip to the stock car races last April. From then, things went rapidly downhill and we were told dad had weeks left to live. My mum opted to care for him at home. I know she underestimated how hard it would be.
That's when Saint Francis Hospice stepped in. Their specialist nurses would call mum regularly and check how things were. Dad had visits from their physiotherapists and occupational therapy team, to ensure he had all he needed.
I loved knowing that both she and dad were being looked after; especially as they protected me and supported me so well too.
That's what Saint Francis Hospice does. The wonderful staff not only care for the person with the illness, but those around them too. They allow families to be families.
After dad died, I really struggled. I didn't sleep and the tiredness made things worse. I was always one of those men who didn't talk about things and I had questions that felt too silly to ask anyone. My wife is my rock, but I didn't want to burden her with my sadness. I wanted to support mum and my children, too.
So when I was offered counselling by Saint Francis Hospice, I knew it could help.
My first session with Sandy was during the week dad died. Back then, I was upset but couldn't cry. I felt the only way to keep dad's memory alive was to continue carrying this grief and pain so he stayed with me, in my heart.
Slowly, Sandy has helped me see differently. At first, I didn't believe I could. But she's made me realise the way I was feeling was normal and she's helped me switch those horrible thoughts in my brain off.
But that's not all. When I lost dad, I felt like I lost mum too. But I'm getting her back now, and that's because of the hospice. Mum visits the hospice every Saturday. It gives her protected time to process her own grief. The emotional support she's received, as well as my own, has allowed us to have proper, honest conversations with each other. I sleep more soundly knowing someone is speaking to mum.
My beautiful daughter, Hannah, has been seeing a counsellor too. They read through the poem she'd written for dad's funeral and she's been able to ask questions that she couldn't ask me.
We need more people like Sandy and her colleagues in the world, helping people. The only way that can happen is if we continue to give our support to the hospice. I've seen, first hand, how the money you give makes a difference.
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The Wood Family are supporting our Spring Appeal, encouraging supporters to donate £25 to help fund the work of our Family Support services - the very service that has helped them through their bereavement. Read how each member of the family has experienced the help they received from us.
"Grandad was always very funny and looked on the bright side of life. I got most of my traits from him. When he died, the hospice helped me get back to those traits - to look on the bright side. I was nervous about my first session, but I was very relaxed once I
"My counsellor listens and understands. I brought the poem I wanted to read at grandad's funeral and read it out to her.
"She helped me to think he would be proud of me and she's given me the confidence to be the person grandad would want me to be."
"My husband was a generous man. He only lived for his family. At the end he said Husband
& Wife to me 'you're strong, you will do it'. But I've never felt so alone. I see my family a lot, but then they go home and have someone to talk to at night.
"I can't wait for Saturday, when I go and speak with Joanne for bereavement support at the hospice. I always come out of there crying but I feel so comforted and relieved of so many things. I can see the difference in Roy, too. He's more relaxed; I can see the tension from his eyes has gone.
"I never knew the hospice did this sort of thing. But it's made such a difference, to me and my family."
"My dad was my superhero and I've really struggled to come to terms with his death. I am
a terrible worrier, but I tried to be like my dad and never showed my emotion.
"Sandy has encouraged and helped me to cry, to understand it's normal. She's helping me to realise the bad stuff can go away; my dad and his illness is no longer the last thing I think about before I go to sleep.
"My daughter has the support she needs and my mum has been able to unburden herself too. I finally feel like I'm getting her back.
"I've been lucky enough to have help from the hospice, but that only comes from people donating money. I've seen where the money goes; it truly makes a difference to families like mine. Let's together, help more."