Best friends Jean and Marion are hosting a Care for a Cuppa in support of St Barnabas Hospice, who they have both supported significantly with fundraising since the death of their respective husbands 10 years ago.
Jean and Keith Bray were six weeks short of their 45th wedding anniversary when Keith died after a yearlong battle with lung cancer.
Jean says: “Keith had a number of trial drugs, but nothing was helping. After a family meeting with our children, Keith decided that it was time to stop the trials and make the most of the time he had left.
“The Hospice at Home nurses would visit us to make sure he was comfortable and had everything he needed. I always thought he would want to be at home when the time came, but when we got to the Hospice when Keith needed more care, we felt this overwhelming sense of being safe.”
Jean and Keith have two children, Donna and Carl, who gave them eight grandchildren (four boys and four girls). With a big family, all wanting to support their parents and grandparents, the Hospice was able to offer them space to say their goodbyes.
Jean continues: “Some of my children don’t live close by, so being able to stay over in the family rooms made everything easier. We all felt looked after, it wasn’t just about Keith. It felt like they were caring for us all.”
“When Keith was on the ward, I kept seeing Marion with her husband, Den who was poorly too. We never really spoke, but just smiled knowing what each other was going through.”
Keith died peacefully with Jean and family by his side. In the weeks after his death, St Barnabas nurses would reach out to Jean to join a bereavement support group, hosted nearby.
Jean remembers initially feeling too upset and not wanting to attend, but after a little encouragement joined the session.
“I looked around the room and was a lot younger than the others. I felt angry because I didn’t feel old enough to have lost my husband. Then, I spotted Marion. From that point we started talking and supporting each other. It’s been 10 years now and she is my best friend.
“Marion and I have done a lot to support St Barnabas over the years, and this next coffee morning will mark 10 years since Keith and Den died. We wanted to do something to say thank you again to the Hospice and the people who helped them.
Jean and Marion will be hosting a Care for a Cuppa in Jean’s garden, one of Keith’s favourite spaces.
“Keith was a keen gardener and loved his allotment. I hope the weather is nice and our friends and family can enjoy the day in the garden – Keith would have liked that.”
To find out more about Care for a Cuppa or to get started on hosting your own, click here.