We often talk about the compassion of our colleagues and their commitment to Willen Hospice.  Debs, an amazing member of our Corporate Team, is very recently bereaved but she wanted to share her story to help others during Dying Matters Awareness week.


Could you tell us a little about your recent experience of losing your Mum.

In March I lost my Mum unexpectedly and with little warning.  The Saturday before she died, the world just felt perfect.  Sunday morning everything changed for me and my family.  I just could not understand how My Mum could be there one moment and then gone the next.  Why had this happened to us?

You were really close to your Mum, weren’t you? And as a Mum yourself it must have been so hard?

Our lives (My Dad, Sister and Grandchildren) were changed forever.  Making those calls to the children was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I wanted to ensure they had the chance to say goodbye to Grandma who they were all so close too, she was the glue to all our lives. Trying to explain how Grandma was her usual happy self the day before, was unbearable.  Now we were faced with decisions that no one ever thinks they will have to make.

Does working for Willen Hospice make it any easier?

Having worked within the Funeral Industry for 10 years, prior to Willen Hospice, I’ve seen first-hand how precious life is and how situations can change in an instant, but you always think, “that will never happen to me”, you are somehow removed from the pain, grief and sadness.  It really is true, nothing can prepare you for the death of a loved one when it happens.  It doesn’t matter if it is an expected or sudden death, the grief is still the same.

Working for Willen Hospice I see every day the huge impact bereavement has on people’s lives, not just emotionally but psychologically, and it was never a situation I expected to be in personally.

We could all see the pain you were in, did you feel you received the right support?

I cannot fault Willen for their support and care throughout this time. From the day my Mum was taken to the hospital, to the day she died, the funeral and beyond, nothing was too much trouble.   My Manager and team were incredibly supportive, checking in with me to see if there was anything he could do, or if there was anything I needed.

What about time off, did you feel pressure to get back to work?

Our HR department made sure I was getting the time off I needed to be with Mum, my family, organise the funeral and I never felt rushed to get back to work – which was such a relief.  My work colleagues all sent messages of love and support.  Some of them shared their own stories from going through the same experience of losing a loved one, and this really helped me cope.

Even my Senior Manager contacted me to offer his kindness too and to let me know the team were all there in whatever capacity, if I needed them.  I was sent a lovely card, flowers and my work colleagues made a donation in memory of Mum to a charity close to her heart, Maggie’s, a charity providing cancer support where both my Mum, and my sister received treatment in 2020, and where Mum volunteered. These act of kindness, will be ones I will remember, always.

Heartfelt thanks to Debs for sharing her experience.