Read Lorraine’s incredible story of how heartbreak from losing a Husband, developed into making memory bears to support others.
“For about 10 years, my husband Richard was having recurring chest infections but all x-rays came back clear. That was until November 2010 when after more x-rays and CT scans he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.
When we saw the consultant, he said he was 99% sure the fibrosis was caused by Richard keeping pigeons for nearly 50 years. We then did the wrong thing and checked with Mr Google which was a big mistake. I then joined two groups on Facebook: ‘Pulmonary Fibrosis UK’ and ‘Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Pulmonary Fibrosis carers group’.
Both of these groups helped us tremendously, and certainly a lot more than Mr Google did.
Richard remained stable until April 2016 when he got a really bad chest infection and spent four weeks in hospital on oxygen. Everything changed once he was home as we were suddenly plunged into a world of oxygen concentrators, mobility scooters, stairlifts and much more. We carried on trying to make as many memories as we could, laughing along the way. Richard wasn’t well enough to go abroad (he even missed my daughters wedding) so we had a few caravan holidays here in the UK.
Over the next year he gradually deteriorated until he couldn’t leave the house. His wish was that he ended his days at home rather than in hospital so I cared for him as best I could. Eventually we had to have carers in twice a day as there were things I couldn’t do on my own, like changing his bedding while he was still in bed. For the last month, I slept on the sofa downstairs whilst Richard was in a hospital bed in the same room.
Once or twice a week, a Marie Curie nurse used to come during the night so I could go to bed and get some rest. The night Richard passed away, I’d gone to bed leaving him in the capable hands of the nurse. At around 1:15 am she came up to me to tell me Richard’s breathing had changed. By the time I’d ran downstairs, he’d gone.
The guilt that I wasn’t with him will stay with me forever.
The only positive out of it was that he passed quickly and peacefully.
There are some people who feel let down by the system but I couldn’t have wished for any better support than what I got from everyone involved. I lost a child when she was two, a son in law in Afghanistan and both parents, so I thought I was prepared, but losing a husband is so different to anything I’ve ever been through.
I set up a new Facebook group for PF/IPF widows and widowers which has helped not only me but hopefully those who have joined. Some of us have met up in a group a few times.”
The memory bears
“My sister in law made me a memory bear from Richard’s favourite shirt which I keep on my bed. I often spray it with his favourite aftershave so I feel he is always near. Then I thought “I can do that”, I enjoy sewing so I started to make them for friends and family for a small charge to cover costs.
Recently I decided I wanted to do something for people who are in my position so I posted on the 3 Facebook groups I’m a member of saying I would make anyone a bear free of charge if they would just pay postage and packing and make a small donation to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Trust.
I’ve already made quite a few and I’ve more to do. They may take me a while as I’m not a seamstress or professional and I sew them by hand. I just love to think I’m giving a bit of comfort to others.”
If you are interested in finding out more about the memory bears then please email Lorraine Green: firstname.lastname@example.org and her Facebook Group for PF/IPF widows and widowers can be found via the following link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1806513462771832