Jan’s Story

4 August 2017

In September 2013 I took early retirement to care for my 2 boys, my husband of over 40 years and our little dog Benji, who were now both well into their 70’s.  We enjoyed over 2 years of wonderful retirement together before hubby began to feel unwell.  In April 2016 he was admitted to hospital and we were given the shattering news that would change all our lives forever, he had Stage 4 Terminal Lymphoma.

With the help of family, friends, doctors, Farleigh and District Nurses, and Christchurch Carers I cared for him at home until he died peacefully in July. Benji and I enjoyed each other until February 2017 when he too became very poorly.  Meltdown!!  Just when I thought things could not get any worse, they did, as our vet had to put Benji to sleep.  That night I cried myself to sleep missing my 2 boys dreadfully and wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

I thought I have to do something to turn my life around otherwise I would be ill and that would be no way to repay my family and friends for the love and support they had given me.  The next morning I summoned some courage from somewhere and went into Braintree District Voluntary Support Agency.  With tears streaming down my face I managed to blurt out the words to Dave and Gwen that I had just lost both my husband and my little dog and I would like to Volunteer so I had a purpose in life.  They listened and gave me the support I needed to get started. I did!

One week later I joined Marion as a member of her team of volunteer gardeners at the Braintree Public Gardens.  I joined Paul and his new team at the Farleigh Homeware Shop.  I joined the Conservation Group at Hoppit Mead and Blackwater Way and now enjoy one morning a month counting river pond life to manage the quality of the water and keeping the parks tidy by litter picking.  I joined the Salvation Army Lunch Club helping in the kitchen serving lunch and washing up.

It has changed my life. I have been made very welcome by everyone, met some lovely people in the same situation as me, alone and struggling to cope with their loss.  They have supported me when I suddenly started crying for no reason and have provided the company and friendship I needed to stop me feeling so alone.

So, if for whatever reason you are struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one, or are just in need of a new challenge or friendship, contact Braintree Volunteer Centre as they can help you make a difference to your life and someone else’s.

To find your local Volunteer Centre, Click Here

To view these volunteering roles click on the links below:

Salvation Army Braintree

Braintree and Bocking Public Gardens

Farleigh Hospice Shop Braintree

Hoppit Mead Nature Reserve

To find similar roles in your area, carry out a search using your postcode and choosing activities such as ‘Gardening’, ‘Retail’ and ‘Cooking and Catering’.

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