Every month, a bereavement group meets at South Bucks Hospice in High Wycombe. Below, one group member describes the help and hope it provides people in their hour of need.
Young mother Lynsey Tilbury found herself struggling with ‘irrational guilt’ as she brought up her three children alone after husband Wayne died of cancer. Lynsey, from Loudwater, was just 35 when Wayne passed away on Boxing Day 2016 and she admits that, 18 months later, she is feeling his loss more than ever.
“So many people tell you they know what you are going through, but they haven’t lost a husband or wife,” she said. “I feel very guilty that I am bringing up the children alone. I didn’t plan at 35 to be a widow bringing up three children. On Father’s Day, I feel guilty that I have my dad and my children don’t. It is totally irrational, but this is what grief does to you.”
But Lynsey unexpectedly found hope and help after a friend told her about the monthly bereavement group at South Bucks Hospice.
“I remember walking in and they were all much older and I thought ‘my goodness’, but when I sat down and started talking I realised it didn’t matter whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or 70s – grief is the same and everybody’s pain in the same.”
Lynsey now attends regularly and says she would be lost without the sessions, held on the first Tuesday of every month.
“I walk away at the end and feel release and feel happy. It helps me get through that next month. Nobody judges, there are no rights or wrongs in that group and everybody is different.”
She praised the hospice for allowing people to come to sessions for as long as they want – which has resulted in some attending for many years.
“I look forward to the sessions and the other members have become our friends. They know how you feel. They were all crying the first time I told my story. They give me advice and I don’t feel I am going to be judged.”
Lynsey first met RAC patrolman Wayne when she was just 17. There was a 17-year age gap, but we just gelled. Wayne was a really positive person with a wicked sense of humour.” They had three children together – Morgan, now 17, Poppie, 11, and ten-year-old Charlie.
Wayne first fell ill in July 2015 and was diagnosed in August that year with a cancer called Myeloma, which develops from cells in the bone marrow. Initially, the outlook was positive because he was young and fit, and he was given chemotherapy and stem cell treatment. The following May, they were given the news he was in remission and the family thought they could now get back on course with their lives.
Sadly, the Myeloma returned in August and Wayne’s conditioned worsened. On December 23, 2016, Lynsey knew the end might be very close when she was asked by the hospital consultant if Wayne had expressed any wishes as to where he wanted to die.
“Even if you know someone is going to die, you can’t believe they are going to die when they are still in front of you breathing. On December 23, I found myself walking down every flight of stairs from level five of the hospital with the tears falling on the floor and not even touching my face."
“At 10.30pm on Christmas night, Wayne said something to me – we couldn’t make out what it was because his voice had gone and then he laid on his side and went to sleep and from that moment onwards, Wayne did not wake up again.”
Wayne finally passed away just before midnight on Boxing Day aged 53.
Grief-stricken Lynsey was now left with the job of going home to break the news.
“I faced the task of having to do the hardest thing as a mum. I walked downstairs, the Christmas tree was up, Wayne’s presents were there, and the kids were saying ‘mummy you haven’t opened any presents’. “I said Daddy is very poorly, Daddy has gone to heaven, but I promise you that all Daddy did was go to sleep. I promise you that Christmas will never ever be a sad time for us because Daddy wouldn’t want that.”
But life is still an emotional struggle for Lynsey without her husband.
“People see you smiling and happy and think it is all okay, but people don’t know what it’s like behind closed doors."
“I would be lost without the bereavement sessions at South Bucks Hospice. I leave here with a smile on my face and I feel closer to Wayne.”
To find out more about the bereavement group, which meets the first Tuesday of each month, contact the nurses’ office on 01494 552755