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Jean's Ode to the joy of Stepping Out

Jean's Ode to the joy of Stepping Out

Published on:
June 14, 2024

‘We were married for 57 years, me and my husband Ken, and we lived in the same house all that time. And I’m still here. When he died of asbestos lung cancer in 2016, I suffered fromwhat I can only describe as separation anxiety. You’re lonely but it’s the separation, the empty house, the regular routine you had. I’m very fortunate, I feel we had a good life together. But Stepping Out has been a life-saver for me. Even now it really is. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

I was absolutely grief-stricken when he died because there had been so much going on at the hospitals, back and forth there, that when he actually died, especially with it being Christmas time, I was absolutely devastated. Because my life had become looking after him. I was so devastated I went from what I’d call an outgoing person, I’d always danced, I just wanted to shut myself away. I became very introverted and started getting so depressed and everything.

People said I should go to a grieving group, but I didn’t want to because I had visions that I’d just be with other sad and grieving people and that wouldn’t help. Anyway, I went and it turned out to be a great help to me. I really looked forward to going, hearing other people’s stories, it wasn’t depressing at all.

But after two years they said we think you’ve progressed and we’ve got so many people waiting to come along that we have to have a deadline and let other people have their chance. Then I felt I was going downhill again because I’d lost my support. So I got in touch with someone and a lady called Rea phoned and said she understood I was going through a depressing time and could she help.

I like to go out and mix with people, that’s my temperament, I was always socialising. Anyway, she said they’d got a trip in Hatfield House for carers and would I like to go along. I said I wouldn’t be able to get there, I don’t drive, and she said not to worry it’s all covered by a charity called Stepping Out With Carers, and they’d come and collect me. So I went along, all nervous, and met Sue for the first time. From there they said would you like to come again? we go to lots of different venues.

I’ve got to know nearly all the people now, lovely ladies from Stevenage, Cheshunt, they’re all friends now and I really look forward to meeting up with them. We have chats on the phone as well. It’s changed my life. Some of them go on the long walks, I go on the shorter ones with my stick. Now it’s the most important thing in my life, it really is.

If there was something I had to choose about never giving up, it would be this. It’s been a life-saver. I wonder if I would have reached 89 otherwise. I just wanted to give up really. I can even say it’s better than my dancing days. That was lovely but this has really taken over from those days. It’s a whole new world.’

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