Sam’s story

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"At the St Clare bereavement café, I feel like I can actually talk about my grief and about Amy.”

Sam’s younger sister, Amy, was killed in a road collision in November 2022 when she was hit by a dangerous driver while riding her motorbike. 

“Amy was only 20 and I’d describe her as an experience! She was a passionate and skilled motor biker as well as being the epitome of an annoying little sister! One dark, foggy November afternoon a driver made a dangerous overtake and hit her head-on. She had no chance to avoid it. You always worry, but you never think it will happen to you. 

“After she died, it was like a blur. I had a five-year-old and so life was doing the school run and the day-to-day living. I was almost robotically doing all the things that still needed to be done. That then makes your grief difficult to process. But how do you process the loss of your sister in that way?” 

Sam knew she needed some help. “I had the idea in my mind that something like a bereavement cafe existed. That there must be a bereavement social group around here, so I searched on Facebook and the St Clare information popped up. That was in January and it took me some time to build up the courage to go. 

“It’s a surprisingly massive step. You don’t realise how big a step it is just to get in the door until you have to do it, and when I walked in that first time I burst into tears. It was a combination of anxiety of the unknown and, as a younger person, I thought it was going to be all elderly people who have lost their spouses after 50 years together. I didn’t feel that I could share my story there, and people would understand what I had been through. That was a big thing for me, but it was not the case at all, which has been a massive relief.  

“I walked in and met Catherine, one of the volunteers. She was so lovely and everyone was so kind. She got me a drink and I sat down with Ken, one of the other volunteers, and he said can you tell me about your sister. Because of the circumstances around Amy’s death, people tend to ask about the crash and want all the dramatic details. It was such a breath of fresh air to be asked about her, and not about how she died.

“That was really special and has stuck with me. It made me feel like I was in a safe space and with people who understand.  Even if they can’t relate to the circumstances, they understand loss and sudden loss. It was Ken’s questions that made me think that I’d made the right decision in coming.

“I look forward to going to the café and always feel a bit lighter after going. Even if I haven’t talked much about Amy. When you suffer a bereavement, everyone says you must talk about it. Don’t bottle it up. But in reality, they don’t actually want you to talk about it because it makes people deeply uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say to you, or how to act around you. At the café, I feel like I can actually talk about my grief and about Amy.

It’s given me a new perspective on loss. When Amy died, I did struggle to have sympathy with people who were losing loved ones in their 70s and 80s. You’ve had 70 years with someone and I only had 20 with Amy and that was it. Going along has taught me that all our losses are huge and unique, and no loss is more or less painful than another.

“I wish I had gone along sooner. It was a huge step, but every single person there has also taken that step, and we know how massive that is. It’s really brave to step through a doorway like that and talk about your loss. Whether that happened a week ago or 20 years ago. If it’s not for you, there’s no pressure to come back, but you won’t know until you try. It’s been an absolute godsend to me.

– Sam, who attends our Bereavement Café

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