Cynthia Samuels described her husband Lloyd as kind, funny, intelligent, and an amazing father and husband. She said he was her rock, so when he passed away in July 2021, she needed help to navigate her grief journey.

In February 2022, upon her doctor’s recommendation and her brother’s encouragement to get professional support, Cynthia was put into contact with McNally House Hospice’s Bereavement Clinician Jennifer Jowlabar and began her road to healing with one-on-one counselling. “I was a bit apprehensive because who wants to talk about what you’ve been through?” Cynthia said. “It’s difficult enough, but Jenn was so great at just letting me talk it through and validating the way I was feeling.”  

“Jenn would just explain [the feelings] to me and make them okay so that next time I felt them I knew that, ‘Yes. This is what I’m supposed to be feeling. It’s a good thing.’” Cynthia said. “She also taught me how to pull myself out of those moments where I would fall deeply and not know what I was doing or where I was.” 

Cynthia has also joined in on the bereavement programs and groups that McNally House offers. She has participated in art therapy, the summer walking group, and a group farm visit.

Attending bereavement groups allowed Cynthia to have casual conversations with people she met due to their shared grief, people whom she now considers friends. She says they have become a vital part of her support system, friends who are able to understand and help her navigate the difficult journey that is grief, and she is able to do the same for them.

While Cynthia is the only member of her family to participate in McNally House’s bereavement programs, she says it is not just her that they have helped. It’s also everyone around her who watched her deal with her grief.

“My family is better. My kids don’t worry as much about me.” Cynthia said. “I know that what I was going through affected them. Obviously, it’s their father, but in a different way because watching me go through it couldn’t have been easy for them. But then listening to me talk about how I was being helped – I think that helps [them].”

Cynthia says she doesn’t know if she would have gotten out of the shock of losing her husband if she hadn’t reached out to McNally House. She remembers telling Jennifer that she couldn’t and didn’t want to get over it.

“I just wanted to remain in this hole that I was in… I think if I didn’t have the support of the McNally House Bereavement Program I would have never gotten out. When I think back on all the moments of my grief, that stands out to me, the help I received.” Cynthia said. “I feel like the compassion that Jenn gave me in those calls when I needed it the most was everything.”

Cynthia says without Jennifer’s help she doesn’t know if she would be anywhere near the person she is now after her husband’s death. With McNally House’s compassion, she was able to realize her strength.

At McNally House Hospice, we feel privileged to provide compassionate, person-centred care to not only our residents but to their family and friends. For every resident we care for at the hospice, there are at least five family and friends who will require our support.

In addition to provincial funding to cover nursing costs, more than $1M is needed annually to ensure the Hospice residence and all other community programs remain available.

But, we can’t do it without you.

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