CAROL Treacey misses her husband Steve’s hugs the most.
‘‘He was the best hugger,’’ she said.
Although Steve is no longer with her, these are some of the dearest memories Carol cherishes.
Steve died 17 months ago from heart failure. He was only 64.
It came after a failed heart transplant.
‘‘He was sent home in November and was gone on February 6,’’ Carol said.
‘‘He died at home.’’
Although Steve had been using a pacemaker defibrillator for 11 years, his death still came as a shock for Carol.
‘‘Those first few days and weeks were a blur. I cried most of the time,’’ she said.
‘‘I was lucky though as I have a lot of family and friends who were there for me.’’
The mother of six and grandmother of 16 also had the support of Echuca hospital’s palliative care team, which is how she learnt about its bereavement walking group.
Six weeks after Steve died, Carol decided to give it go.
And she has never looked back.
‘‘It’s been the best thing ever,’’ she said.
‘‘Sometimes when I’m with the group, I’m doing well and feel like I can cope and help others and the next time I can be a mess, so it changes.
‘‘But that’s the beauty of the group. It doesn’t matter if you have a good or a bad day. You’re just there to support each other.’’
Carol said grief was not something you got over, but something you learnt to live with.
‘‘When you’ve known someone for 50 years and married for 45, it’s hard not having them there any more,’’ she said.
Special occasions are particularly hard.
‘‘Every celebration is a bit sad because he’s not there to share it with me,’’ Carol said.
She said she looked forward to the monthly walks, which always made her feel better.
‘‘They listen and understand and we have lots of laughs,’’ she said.
‘‘There is a combination of people but they’re there for the same reason. Some have lost partners, others have lost children or parents.’’
An initiative of the ERH Community Palliative Care Service, the walking group forms part of the follow-up care of partners/carers and parents grieving the loss of a loved one.
‘‘Grief can be a very lonely and isolating experience, especially when you have been actively caring for a loved one throughout a long illness,’’ community palliative care nurse Pam Teh said. ‘‘It is comforting to know that there are others who understand and care.’’
The group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 10am at the ERH Education Centre.
A 30-40 minute walk is followed by morning tea, including homemade scones.
For information, call palliative care on 54855231.