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After 26 and a half years together, all Andrew wanted in his final moments was his wife, Kimberley, by his side. Here Kimberley revisits that painful goodbye and her plans to celebrate Andrew’s life. We bring you her sixth and final instalment of the series here:
My husband Andrew became less communicative towards the end of his life.
There was one time I noticed him getting agitated in bed and I asked him if he needed anything, not sure if he would answer or not. He replied so clearly with ‘‘you’’ – all he wanted was me.
There was never any doubt in our 26 and a half years together, that that man loved me so much. It was 26th March 2021 at 9.40pm when Andrew took his last breath. I was sat right beside him.
Hours before, a ‘do not disturb’ notice had been put on the door of Andrew’s room. Previous to this we were used to the hospice staff coming in and out of the room on routinely visits. As the room became quiet I decided to put the TV on to create some background noise. I was in no mood to watch any of it.
As Andrew’s breathing became more laboured I called for the nurse to come in. She had the most beautiful bedside manner and talked me through Andrew’s final moments. I had never seen a person die before, in fact Andrew was my first and only big loss.
Andrew peacefully passed away on a Friday night. I caught sight of the TV and quickly realised that Andrew had died during his favourite TV show – Gogglebox. It was odd to think that just one week before we had been sat together watching this show in his room.
My legs had been trembling uncontrollably and the nurse asked me if there was anyone that they could call to take me home. The dignity and respect that Andrew had been shown after his death meant that I felt okay to leave him. I removed his wedding ring and gathered his belongings. Soon afterwards my mum and sister in law arrived.
Due to COVID restrictions, funerals were limited to 30 people. Before his death, Andrew had helped me to compile the guestlist and music for his funeral. I don’t know how we managed those conversations, but we did.
Many years before, I remember us sitting and planning our wedding and choosing a guest list. Inviting people to Andrew’s funeral was one of the hardest and most unnatural things I’ve ever had to do.
We both liked the Foo Fighters but I remember saying to Andrew: “I can’t play the Foo Fighters at your funeral as I will never be able to listen to them again!” I later had a change of heart.
Andrew had already chosen ‘Sweet Disposition’ by Temper Trap and ‘Two Steps Behind’ by Def Leppard but I was asked for one further song by the funeral directors. I decided that I needed to take some inspiration from his playlist. I came across ‘My hero’ by the Foo Fighters and it couldn’t have been a more fitting song for my one-time real-life hero.
Friends lined the streets on Chatsworth Road as the funeral procession took Andrew on his final journey past all his favourite pubs. Seeing the people line the streets, clapping as we drove past, more than made up for the restrictions at the crematorium.
Andrew was very popular, but he never sought popularity. He was a very easy going, friendly and chatty type of person. He had a lot of time for people and is fondly remembered by many for his big smile.
The pubs and bars reopened the same week of the funeral. However, we were unable to have a wake as the numbers were restricted to just 15 people. Many of the people who lined the streets on Chatsworth Road went back to the local pub to watch the funeral being live streamed.
After the funeral was over, I went back to the pub with our children and other family members to see the people who had lined the streets and helped make that final journey so special
I still hope that one day I can throw a big party to celebrate Andrew’s life.
After Andrew died, a friend said to me ‘I don’t think Andrew ever realised just how popular he was.’ And that was so true of Andrew. He never really cared about being popular, he was just a genuine person who always had time for others.
Now he’s gone and I’m still trying to find my feet. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that I want to make Andrew proud.
Andrew was such a special person and he will always have a piece of my heart.
Kimberley and Andrew were childhood sweethearts with two young children. After living with cancer for three and a half years, Andrew was reaching the last weeks of his life. Together, Kimberley and Andrew, along with their two children, spent the time they had left creating precious memories.
Kimberley Greaves is a young widow at 44. She has documented the devastating experience of losing the love of her life in her own words.