Living my best life

Date Published: 8th October 2019

When Kuiama Patton’s partner Chris, died from a fatal blood clot, she didn’t know where to turn to for help. As a mum of 3, she was especially concerned for her children, and for her own future. 

One phone call to Teesside Hospice changed that…


"I initially rang a children’s bereavement service to find out information about counselling for my daughter, Lily. The service told me to ring Teesside Hospice and I thought it was strange. I thought Teesside Hospice was only for people with cancer and their families.

I rang the counselling service and made an initial appointment for Lily. The lady on the phone explained that the counselling service was for local people and that you didn’t have to have a connection to Teesside Hospice. I was so relieved to have found somewhere that could help Lily, and before I knew it, I was crying on the phone. At that point, the lady asked me if I’d had any counselling, and I realised that a year had passed and I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it, so maybe I could benefit from some counselling too.

After a first meeting, I was matched up with a counsellor at the hospice.

When Chris died, just before Christmas in 2015, I was scared. I was stuck in a rut. I thought everything was negative and I became a pessimist. The counsellor kept asking me what the meaning of my life was, but I didn’t have one of my own, it was all about the kids and Chris. Chris was only 45 when he died. We were going to get married, buy a house and bring up the kids; but when he died that was all gone. I didn’t have a purpose anymore.

I was really scared about how I was going to cope. I had a bad childhood and I was so worried that I was going to fall back on my old coping mechanisms to deal with how I felt about Chris’ death.

My counsellor helped me to understand that by coming for the counselling, I had already learnt that I had coping mechanisms which hadn’t worked for me in the past, and that I should start to trust myself and my own decisions as I moved forward.

He also taught me about some new ways to think and helped me to come to terms with the here and now. I’ve learnt to break things down day by day so that I’m not overwhelmed. It’s about what I can do today to make a difference for tomorrow.

Kuiama and Chris

After a few months of counselling, I started to make changes in my day to day life. I left my job that I hated and I went on a short course at Teesside University, to learn about drawing. I absolutely loved it. The people and the environment felt right for me, so I enrolled on an access course to higher education at the Northern School of Art.

I’d always wanted to do a degree in art, so after passing the access course I enrolled on to a BA Honours Degree in Fine Art at Teesside University which I’ve recently started. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was little. Over the last few years I’ve felt like my life has been on hold, until now.

Losing Chris has made me embrace my own life. With the help of Andrew, rather than feeling sorry for myself, I’m living my best life. I’m bringing Chris with me on my journey, I’m doing it for both of us.

I can’t put into words how much of an impact counselling has made on my life. I didn’t see the point in doing anything good, I didn’t think I deserved it. But now I know I’ve got a purpose and I’m looking ahead. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the counselling. If I’m happy, it makes my children feel happy and secure, and that’s so important to me. Thank you.”

If you feel like we could help you, or a loved one, please talk to our team on 01642 811075 or visit www.teessidehospice.org/bereavement-counselling

Thank you for helping us to continue to support people like Kuiama, we couldn't do this without you. #Thisiswhatittakes

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