Nigel allen

What if there had been a Big Bend Hospice for my dad?

My father was nine years old when the bomb hit. His family had a shelter in their backyard, as did many families living in England in 1941. One night, a German buzz bomb went off course and made a direct hit on the shelter where my father was sleeping. The force of it blasted his little body across the yard. When he regained consciousness in the hospital, his maternal grandmother informed him that his parents and younger sister were dead.

“You’re the man of the house now,” she told him. “And John, men don’t cry.”

Fast-forward 75 years and another little boy loses his father. Evan is a kind boy with mannerisms and a vocabulary that make him sound older.

“His intelligence was off the charts,” he says about his father, who took his life by jumping off a building. 

Two tragic stories, two boys who experienced great suffering at a young age, but there’s a key difference: Evan has been given the chance to grieve in a healthy way. At Camp-Woe-Be-Gone and our monthly children’s grief groups, Evan learns to talk about his emotions. He shares memories about his father. He is told that it’s okay to feel sad or mad or happy - or everything all at once. He learns it’s okay to cry.

My father, on the other hand, learned to stifle his emotions and suffer in silence. Later, when he turned to alcohol to numb the pain, my mother, brothers and I suffered, as well.

I can’t help but think: what if there had been a place like Big Bend Hospice for my father? What if he had gone to a 1940s version of Camp-Woe-Be-Gone? How might his life - and our entire family’s life - have turned out differently?

I share this story so you know that when you support Big Bend Hospice, you change people’s lives. Not only the patients under our care, but their families, their loved ones, even future generations.

We started this newsletter because we want you to have the chance to hear some of the stories about what your generosity is accomplishing.

The grief programs for children like Evan happen because of you. The van Rnea uses to give patients a safe, comfortable ride from the hospital exists because of you. The excellent quality of care scores we receive are possible because of you.

Thank you. I hope you enjoy the stories.

They’re your stories as much as ours.

I invite you to share your stories with me as well by calling (850) 556-4199 or emailing