Tricia and Sue's story | St Joseph's Hospice

Tricia and Sue's story

Rita Carpenter and Eileen Kennett were much loved mums, both spending their final days at St Joseph’s Hospice. They never met and were being looked after on different wards but their stay at St Joseph’s was to be the beginning of an extraordinary friendship between their daughters.

Tricia and Sue, both in their forties, were devoted to their mums. Tricia become a full time carer when in 2012 her mum was diagnosed with dementia as a result of radiotherapy treatment for eye cancer a number of years before. She looked after her until the day she died. Sue, a mum of four grown up children and 5 grandchildren, did everything with her mum - they were best friends and she was devastated when her mum was diagnosed with lung cancer. Sue told her “We will do this together. You were there for me when I took my first breath and I will be there with you when you take your last breath.”

While their mums were being looked after at St Joseph’s they spent every minute at the hospice, knowing that time was short and very precious. They both really appreciated the support of the nursing staff and felt that the care given to their mums allowed them to just be with them and enjoy the time they had left. After a few days they both decided to pop out into the garden for a bit of fresh air and a cup of tea. It was there that they met and instantly hit it off, finishing with a hug before going back to their mums. They found they could talk about anything and everything and had so much in common. Both had lost their brothers in tragic circumstances when they were still young and both had difficult relationships with their sisters.

The daughters continued to meet each other in the café and in the garden during the week that their mums were being cared for at St Joseph’s. At the end of the week Sue bumped into Sr Florence who had been spending time with her mum and was told that Tricia’s mum had passed away that morning. Sue was told that her mum was nearing the end of life and they spent their last day together. Eileen wanted to wear a dress and had her make up done, she wanted to look her best. She passed away the same day as Rita surrounded by her family with her daughter lying beside her.

Tricia came back to the hospice the following morning to say her final goodbyes but she couldn’t leave without finding a way to get in touch with her new friend. She left her phone number at the hospice and that night Sue called. Over the coming weeks they spent hours on the phone together and continue to speak to each other nearly every day. They are like sisters and really understand how the other is feeling. They both desperately miss their mums.

They have both been back to the hospice on many occasions, donating some of their mums’ possessions to help raise money for the hospice. They have had counselling, Sue saw a psychotherapist and Tricia still comes to the bereavement group every few weeks.

They continue to be best friends, they text and talk all the time and meet up whenever they can. They are both coming to Light up a Life and have dedicated a candle to their beloved mums.

Sue said, “Fate brought Tricia into my life. It’s a gift from our mums who brought us together so that we could help and support each other after they’d gone and to help us cope with them not being here with us. Sometimes I just come to St Joseph’s and sit in the garden, I love the peace and quiet and being able to sit and just remember my mum.”

Tricia said, “In many ways Sue and I are very different but we have a common bond which I don’t think will ever be broken now. We both lost our mums at St Joseph’s but we found each other and we’re really lucky.”

Dedicating a light on the tree is completely free. If you would like to make a dedication in memory of someone you love, please email supportercare@stjh.org.uk or call 020 8525 3200.

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