Lee Jackson signed up for the trip of a lifetime to the Great Wall of China after his mum Jean received end-of-life care at Sue Ryder’s Manorlands Hospice. Here, Lee explains why he was determined to give back to the Manorlands team who cared for his mum, how his big trip turned out to be a cathartic experience and how comforting Manorlands' bereavement counselling has been for him since Jean's death.
We recently began our #JustSaySomething campaign, asking people with similar experiences to open up about their grief, so that those who are grieving or others close to them in need of support can talk freely and feel comfortable seeking help to deal with their loss.
‘My wife and I were able to be with mum’
‘My mum was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2018. She didn’t want to have any treatment and in March this year she was obviously coming towards the end and she couldn’t get up and down the stairs at her home in Liverpool. We had heard a lot about Sue Ryder Manorlands and really positive things about the Sue Ryder team so I suggested to mum that Manorlands might be the answer.
‘She agreed to come to Manorlands, which is closer to us, and fortunately there was a bed available for her. She was deteriorating really quickly so we were only there for four or five days in the end but the Sue Ryder staff just went above and beyond the call of duty. Mum passed away on March 26 and my wife and I were able to be with her. Just because of the amazing support we had while we were there I felt I had to give something back.’
Lee donated funds from his mum’s funeral to Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and also decided it was the right time to embark on the trip of a lifetime to China.
‘It was just a once in a lifetime experience’
‘While we were at Sue Ryder Manorlands I had spotted a poster about trekking Machu Picchu and I have always really wanted to do that. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get on that trip but another trip to the Great Wall of China came up so I signed up for that instead. It was just a once in a lifetime experience. The team who organised it were amazing and the support from Sue Ryder was just fantastic. Everywhere we went was just a postcard moment but more important than that was the fact that I made 30 new friends by going.’
The 10-day trek along the Great Wall, one of many challenge events that raise funds for Sue Ryder, proved to be a bonding experience for the participants with many having embarked on the trip in memory of a loved one.
‘There was quite a poignant moment when we held two minutes silence on a hilltop’
‘It was a really close knit group with people of all ages and all fitness levels coming together and just getting on with it. Many of us were there to remember someone we had lost and that shared experience creates really strong bonds. You could relate to what people were going through because you had experienced something similar yourself and I think a lot of people were starting a new chapter in their lives.
‘There was quite a poignant moment when we held two minutes silence on a hilltop. It was a really pure silence as everyone took some time to reflect on how far we had come and why we were there and to celebrate whoever we were walking on behalf of.’
‘The bereavement counselling has been a great comfort’
Since his mum’s death, Lee has also been supported by a Sue Ryder bereavement counsellor.
‘When you’re working and looking after a family you can lose sight of those lifelong ambitions. Losing my mum has made me think about my own bucket list - the things I want to achieve and the memories I want to create. The bereavement counselling I have received from Sue Ryder Manorlands has been really helpful and has given me the nudge that I needed. My dad died six years prior to my mum and they were both relatively young which has been difficult to deal with, but life carries on and you have to keep going.
‘The bereavement counselling has been a great help and a great comfort. I was in quite a dark place and just being able to talk to someone made a huge difference. Rather than thinking about what I might do in the future, it has encouraged me to plan for what I will do.’
Find out more information about Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and how you can help support their expert palliative care, plus our advice and resources for coping with grief and supporting those who have lost a loved one.
Lee's mum Jean received end of life care and support at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice. He went on his Great Wall of China Trek in memory of her and to help raise funds for Manorlands.