Your Support Saves Lives

Your Support Saves Lives 
One man’s experience with Victoria Hospice’s bereavement support programs

 

“I was devastated!” says Alan Tompson, shaking his fists and fighting back tears.  “My Anne had gone.  I didn’t have her anymore.”

As a young man, after serving with the British Army in India and Germany, Alan took a job with East African Airways.  In early 1952, he moved into a hostel in Entebbe, Uganda that was popular with British ex-pats.  At his very first meal in the mess hall, he noticed a table of four women from the Secretariat sitting nearby.  One in particular caught his eye, and Alan said to himself, “She’s delightful!  I’d like to get to know that girl.”

Anne must have noticed Alan too.  When he got sick later that same week, she dropped by his “horse box” with a plate of food to help him feel better.

Soon back on his feet, Alan and some of his friends went to a dance at the Entebbe Club.  Anne was there too, and asked for a dance.  They spent the whole evening together, and won a bottle of sherry for their moves on the dance floor. 

“That’s where it all started,” says Alan.

Eventually they moved to Canada, settling first in Montreal, and then Victoria, where they worked until early 1988 before retiring with plans to travel the world together.

“She was the love of my life,” says Alan, “And we were extremely happy.”

But as they started their travels together, Anne began to experience TIAs – often referred to as mini-strokes – that slowly robbed her of her spirit and her health.  Despite Alan’s attentive care, she gradually declined and died in January 2011. 

“When Anne died I wanted to end it…to commit suicide…to run myself through with a sword or take some pills.  All I could think about was being with Anne.”

Alan was 85 years old, and struggling to adjust to life without his partner of nearly 60 years. 

“We had no children, and Anne was adopted [and didn’t have an extended family], so I was alone.  People were kind, and brought me food, and neighbours would invite me over, but all of sudden the place was empty.  You go out, you come in, there’s no voice…the place is empty.  I no longer had the gift of her physical presence and companionship.

I kept thinking, ‘What am I trying to do?  I’m useless here.’  You get extremely depressed.  I wasn’t used to loneliness.  I felt like I was just wasting people’s time…that I was just being a blooming nuisance.” 

Fortunately, with the assistance of a local doctor, Alan found help in the form of Steve Silvers, a bereavement counsellor with Victoria Hospice. 

“I started with one-on-one counselling sessions with Steve.  I also attended drop-in support group sessions, and later participated in journaling and men’s support groups.  It gave me invaluable guidance.

With Steve’s help, I began to see that Anne wouldn’t want [me to die].  If I went, she’d say, ‘No, go back, it’s not your time yet.’

I’ve always loved talking to people, and Steve also helped me understand that talking and listening to others in the support groups wasn’t just helping me, I was helping them too.  I realized that if I can be of help to people, then that’s what I should do.  And so, that’s what I’m trying to do.  I’m honouring Anne’s memory by trying to be as much help as possible to others during this life while I have it.

It saved me.”

Now 91, Alan’s experience with Victoria Hospice’s bereavement programs has given him a deep appreciation of the donors that make this work possible.

“You’re providing the funds which will help Victoria Hospice staff heal those people who are going through severe anguish and grief.  This helps them survive…as it helped me survive.

Thank you.”

Your donations to Victoria Hospice made Alan's care possible. Thank you!

Quality palliative and end-of-life care for all: Our mission is to enhance the quality of life for those facing life-limiting illness, death and bereavement through patient and family centred care, education, research and advocacy.