Continuing Bonds with Eddie

“The portrait felt so alive, like Eddie was really there, staring back at me.” Yasmin, Eddie’s wife

Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds is a collaboration between St Oswald’s Hospice and Local Artist, Leanne Pearce. Working with 12 bereaved and pre-bereaved families who have accessed our bereavement support service and/or other care services, Leanne has created stunning paintings of their loved ones to support them in their ‘continuing bonds’ process. Here is the story of one of the families who took part in this unique and beautiful project.

Yasmin met Eddie in 2012 when they both attended a Sufism retreat in Cyprus.

They bonded over their devotion to the spiritual movement within Islam and soon fell in love.

The couple married within months of meeting and had two beautiful daughters – Sofia, born in 2013, and Anna, born in 2016.

Eddie adored his girls and loved being a stay-at-home dad.

When Eddie began suffering swelling in his leg and joint pain in the summer of 2019, he visited a doctor. He was eventually diagnosed with lung cancer.

Eddie underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but in March 2020 was transferred to St Oswald’s Hospice for end-of-life care.

As it was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting was initially limited but Yasmin spent as much time with her husband as possible.

On April 18th, Yasmin and the girls visited Eddie to celebrate Sofia’s 7th birthday. The team at St Oswald’s Hospice decorated the room and put on a party tea for the family.

As the girls left, their dad said, “Bye, I’ll see you in heaven.”

Eddie died the next day with his wife by his side. He was 51.

The family was forced to deal with the tragic death of their husband and dad amid lockdown restrictions and Yasmin soon became concerned about how her older daughter, Sofia, was coping.

She asked St Oswald’s Hospice for help and Sofia began speaking to a Bereavement Support Worker.

These regular 1:1 sessions continued until autumn 2023, with Sofia occasionally joined by her younger sister.

The support, Yasmin says, has helped the girls understand their grief better and although sessions have stopped for now, she knows support can be reintroduced for her daughters if needed.

Yasmin admits that for the first few years after Eddie died, she focussed all her energy on the girls. It is only recently that the grief has hit her.

“People are always asking me how I am and I never know what to say. It’s not until this year that I’ve stopped and thought to myself, ‘Actually, how am I doing? What do I need to support myself?”

She’s described being part of Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds a cathartic experience for her and the girls, who helped paint the canvas’s background.

On seeing Eddie’s portrait, Yasmin was overcome with emotion.

“The portrait felt so alive, like Eddie was really there, staring back at me.

“It made me remember the time I took the photo. I was six months pregnant with Sofia. It was such a special time in our lives.

“The girls haven’t stopped talking about their dad’s painting and have been discussing where it should go in the house.”

Our care: Adult Inpatient Service, Bereavement Support

Visit our Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds exhibition

Opening during Dying Matters Awareness Week, Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds exhibition will be on display at Newcastle Civic Centre 10th – 17th May, 2024 (exc Sunday) on the following days and times:

• 9.30am – 4.30pm weekdays

• 10am – 3pm Saturday

There will also be a special Meet the Artist event 11am – 2pm on Saturday 11th May.

Find out more about the project and read other families’ stories below.

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