Your Winter Thank You

Your generous donations fund our expert, compassionate care so that we can help people through the most difficult times of their lives. Thank you for your incredible support. Read on to find out about Anita’s story, our new vision and strategy, and our Sense of Grief campaign.

A patient in a grey dressing gown is sat down with a physio in a white uniform crouched beside him. They are smiling at each other.
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Anita’s story

Man, dressed in a black tux, stands next to his wife who is wearing a red lace dress, in front of a Christmas tree and scene in a department store. They are both smiling at the camera.

Anita’s husband Ben spent the last three weeks of his life being cared for by the expert team at our hospice in Cheltenham. After Ben died, Anita came up with the idea of a ‘Box from Ben’ to help other families capture precious memories and prepare for the death of someone close to them.

Ben was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in January 2021. Anita, 39, who has three children, said that Ben’s diagnosis came as a complete shock. “We weren’t expecting that bombshell at the age of only 38. The consultant told us Ben had a very rare aggressive form of lung cancer and it was incurable. So we basically had a terminal diagnosis from the beginning.”

Anita said:

“The team looked after him brilliantly. The staff who cared for him throughout that time are the most amazing people and will always be part of our family. It will always be a special place to all of us who spent time with him there.”

Box from Ben

Anita explained that she struggled to cope in the immediate aftermath of Ben’s death.

“I was in shock and I hadn’t prepared. We’d only had minimal conversations about what Ben wanted after he died. I hadn’t thought about a funeral director or how long I would have to wait for a funeral, or what he was going to wear, because I’d never been through something like this.

“In the weeks that followed, the kids and I were desperate to have tangible things to make us feel close to him. Ben and I had bought memory boxes, but hadn’t got round to doing them. Every time I approached it with him, he got really upset – but in the aftermath, we were desperate for his handwriting, fingerprints, anything he’d touched. It wasn’t until it was too late that I realised we needed those things desperately.

“The box contains lots of activities you can do together – memory jars, writing letters, handprints. If you can get the whole family doing it together, it takes the pressure off the individual. I think it’s imperative those left behind have something to hold on to. “It’s important to me that Ben’s story is inside that box – it’s not a generic thing, but something personal – it’s come from a patient who has lost their life to a terminal illness. That’s why I named it ‘A Box from Ben’.”

Our new vision and strategy

Our new vision and strategy sets out our ambition to transform the experience of everyone facing death or grief in the UK.

A Sue Ryder Nurse giving medication to a patient, with their partner in the foreground

A society that supports everyone through dying and grief

We want a society that supports everyone through dying and grief, and we are proud to be spearheading this movement for vital change. Our focus will be on end-of-life and bereavement support. This means we can put the needs of people at the end of their lives, and those living with grief, at the front and centre of our work.

The three key goals we have set ourselves are:

  • Better grief support for everyone
  • Helping people who are dying to live well
  • Speaking up for people who are dying or grieving.

A Sense of Grief

Our recent campaign shows how touch, taste, sight, smell and sound can trigger emotions for people who are grieving.

In the foreground an oil painting with a sign that says "A painting for my partner Allan." Behind are several more white plinths, one has a vase of daffodils, another has some perfume. The furthest ba

Research by Sue Ryder reveals that 91% of people agree that sensory triggers, such as old photos or favourite songs, remind them of someone they are grieving for. Most people say they experience moments like this multiple times per week – and for one in five people, every single day. These moments can bring up different emotions, from reflection (40%) to a wave of grief (54%) and sadness (61%).

To start conversations and raise awareness of grief and how we can support those around us, we held a pop-up exhibit in Leeds. On display were items chosen by Sue Ryder’s celebrity supporters and people who have benefitted from our services. They evoked memories about someone who had died and included favourite perfumes, paintings and poems.

Image of Sue Ryder's Senses of Grief exhibit featuring a flower bed and other stands showing examples of the five senses of grief
A Sense of Grief

Discover more about our campaign

Meet our team

Two of our dedicated Sue Ryder Nurses are keen to bust some common myths and misconceptions about hospices. They want to shine a light on just how rewarding their work can be.

Two Sue Ryder Nurses, Becky and Michelle, stand next to one another, in front of internal stone wall and stain glass window. Both nurses are dress in their uniforms and smiling at the camera.

Senior Registered Nurse, Becky, provides specialist care to patients at our hospice in Peterborough.

“The hospice is a really calm and welcoming place to be – and so positive,” said Becky. “The whole team is so close-knit and really supportive, and it makes the environment of the service a wonderful place to work. “The care we provide isn’t just the physical care – it’s the emotional, spiritual and psychological care too. That’s often something people don’t realise. We provide support tailored to each individual person’s needs.”

Becky says another myth people often have is that hospices are just about dying.

“That isn’t true at all – we have patients who are receiving palliative care but aren’t at the end of their lives, but instead come to us for symptom control. We help to improve these symptoms so the patient can then go back home.

“People often don’t know that we are here to help improve quality of life. It really is an honour to be able to support someone at the hardest time of their life. To be able to work with the patient and the family to make that situation the best it can be, it is a really fulfilling job.”

Ward Manager, Michele, leads the inpatient unit at our hospice near Keighley, West Yorkshire.

“To people who say that hospices are just about dying, I would say there’s more life and living here than on your average hospital ward,” explained Michele. “There’s such a wonderful energy at the hospice and we concentrate on living rather than dying. “A lot of people think we just hold people’s hands at their final breath, but most of our patients go home and live a very fulfilled rest of their lives after we have helped them with symptom control.”

“People often think it is depressing to work in a hospice. I always tell people that it’s completely untrue, it’s such a positive and welcoming place. “

Michele says there are so many rewarding things about her job, she doesn’t know where to start.

“I feel so honoured to be able to go on this journey with patients. When you see someone achieve their goals and the end-of-life they wanted, it is immeasurable. Recently we had a couple and we arranged to have one big bed put in the room so they could spend their last night together. It’s these moments that make it for me.”

Compassionate end-of-life care

Find out more about our palliative services

Download: Your Winter Newsletter in full

Discover how your support is making a difference to those living with a life-limiting illness or struggling with grief.

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A smiling Sue Ryder Nurse in the hallway of a hospice
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