Grandmother and daughter hug - family support

Sue Varvel's Family Support Story

Rennie Grove Hospice Care, Director of Nursing and Clinical Service, Sue Varvel, shares her experience with a family who desperately needed help from our Family Support Services team: 

"When I met Jenny she was a single mum of four children, who had just been diagnosed with terminal secondary cancer.  Her four children were all of school age and at crucial points in their young lives. Her eldest child, Rachel, was preparing for A-levels and thinking about university. Michael was 15 and coming up to GCSEs. Robert was 12 and David, 10, would soon move up to secondary school. 

Jenny’s mum, Margaret, was helping with the children so that they could continue to have as normal a life as possible. But Margaret was struggling to come to terms with her own grief, as she looked after her dying daughter. Our nurses realised Margaret needed help from our family support team both for herself and, for the children, who were naturally very distressed and worried."

Rachel remembers: “We were all over the place with our emotions, we were stressed, anxious and panicked about what would happen. As I was the eldest I felt responsible for everyone - my brothers, my Grandma and of course Mum, so it was a huge relief to be able to talk about my worst fears without feeling guilty. My brothers found it especially hard to share their thoughts and feelings with us, so the family support team were a lifeline to them too.

My Grandma found it so hard losing her daughter, but she received such wonderful support before and after Mum died that she was able to pull through. I really don’t know what we would have done without Rennie Grove – as an adult I still remember all they did for us. They even came to my school to discuss how the teachers could support us and wrote a letter to the exam board so they knew about my situation when I sat my A-levels”.

Rachel and her brothers were able to carry on as a family unit with their Grandma, Margaret, after Jenny died. I’ve always remembered Rachel and her family - it was a privilege to be able to play a part in helping them cope with such a heart-breaking situation. However, their story is not unique and there are many other children and families that need our help.

To help us care for more children and families who are coping with bereavement please support our appeal.

Thank you

Note from Rennie Grove: This is a true story but names and identifying features have been changed to protect individual’s identity. Image posed by models.