Patient view

Bereavement specialist helped me cope with my twin’s death

When Tracy Mattison’s sister passed away, bereavement specialist Melanie McDougall was there to help.

I first met bereavement specialist nurse Melanie McDougall when I was directed to Salford Royal’s Bereavement Centre after my twin sister Karen passed away. 

Bereavement specialist nurse Melanie McDougall and Tracy Mattison. Picture: Neil O Connor

Melanie invited me in to chat about the help she could offer and I was struck by her ability to put me at ease. I sat crying my heart out for 2 hours while Melanie patiently comforted me.

Over the next few months it became my safe place to talk about Karen’s death. Melanie soon became a trusted source of support and made the effort to understand my feelings.

Once, she gave me a quote she had seen that had made her think of me. I was touched by the gesture.

Recognising needs 

Melanie recognised my needs and suggested ways to help my son remember Karen in a positive way. She gave me a memory book for children to record memories and encourage discussions, and I have worked through this with my son and filled it with favourite photos. It is something we both treasure.

Melanie went above and beyond for me many times. Due to her encouragement I sought therapy for long-standing childhood issues that Karen’s death brought into focus. I was offered an initial appointment to determine my suitability, but was worried I couldn’t convey all the issues that were affecting me.

Without hesitation, Melanie offered to accompany me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that she was prepared to do so in her own time. 

Keepsakes for families

Melanie trained the nursing staff to approach families to offer keepsakes of their loved ones. She arranged for me to have a photo that was taken of me holding Karen’s hand, and it is something I cherish as a lasting reminder that Karen knew I was with her and died surrounded by love.

Now I can remember the good times Karen and I shared and I can recognise the honour of holding her hand as she passed away. I am thankful to Melanie for the lock of hair and the photograph. 

Without Melanie’s support I don’t think I could have got to where I am now. She is warm, inspiring, professional and genuinely cares. 

She is committed to helping families navigate this difficult time and I can’t thank her enough for what she has done for me. 

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