Retiree Roger Henthorn was struggling to deal with the loss of Lyn, his wife of 30 years, when he saw STEPS advertised on a supermarket community notice board and decided to try it out. The father-of-two, who has seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, had been a full-time carer for Lyn, who was disabled, until her death at the age of 71 in January 2016.
Roger told Tovey’s: “Lyn knew her days were limited and what the future held but still made sure we went on holidays despite needing to take oxygen on the plane. She did say she wanted me to find somebody else when she had gone – she said she didn’t want to peep through the clouds from heaven and see me lonely.
“I joined STEPS in the autumn of 2016 and it was nerve-wracking at first as I didn’t know what to expect but they were a friendly lot and you soon get to know a few people. I did find it very helpful, especially knowing that the way I’d been feeling was natural and that I wasn’t going mad. I had become very forgetful since losing Lyn and it did cross my mind that it could be down to old age but when other people shared similar experiences of grief causing forgetfulness I felt greatly reassured.
“I did the course twice because the first time I was so numb things didn’t really sink in. Natalie is a brilliant person so now I go along to help the newcomers, especially on the first night if they’re sitting on their own and need a chat or to ask questions.”
Nearly four years on, Roger, who lives in Lliswerry, concedes he has ‘good and bad days’ but draws comfort from his remaining family and a close bond with his sister who lives nearby.
“For the last five years of her life, I was with Lyn 24/7 so I not only lost the person I loved but also my role – my place in the world. I had taken early retirement to care for her so suddenly I had nothing to do all day and was taking my loss really badly,” he said. “Without STEPS I’d hate to think where I’d be, to be honest, totally lost I would imagine. It’s probably only the last six months that I’ve been able to drive home and not have tears in my eyes coming to the front door.”
He added: “It’s astounding that we don’t do anything as a society to help those grieving because we’re not talking about a condition that affects one in 30 people – death will happen to every single one of us.”