In January 2018, UKST Support Nurse Katie Hobday lost her close friend Claire to sepsis, aged just 44.
It was sudden, it was traumatic, and sadly it was preventable – with the case going all the way to the coroner’s court. Like the people who use our Support services, Katie knows firsthand how devastating sepsis can be.
She spoke to us about her own personal grief journey, as well as sharing an insight into the different forms of support provided by the charity – from our dedicated Facebook groups for recovery or bereavement, to online support group meetings.
Losing her friend Claire rocked Katie’s world. She found herself wondering whether she could continue working as an ITU nurse and bereavement counsellor in Birmingham, throwing herself into running a half marathon for the UKST in her friend’s memory.
Through her fundraising, she discovered UKST’s support services, and was introduced to Lead Support Nurse Oliver, alongside former employee Larry. After starting to work with UKST in a voluntary capacity, Katie is now a part-time employee alongside our other Support Nurses, Emma and Oliver, while still taking on bank shifts with the NHS as well.
Katie’s background as a counsellor and her experience as an ITU nurse help her provide a compassionate and safe space for others to share their sepsis experiences. A typical day in the life involves logging on, answering emails and manning the helpline, moderating the Facebook groups, and running the online support groups. Katie leads the online bereavement group, which is normally a mixture of new and familiar faces – with the people who have attended previous groups able to provide comfort and support to those at the very beginning of their grief journeys. The group has been described as ‘lifeline’ by people like Jonathan Cope, who tragically lost his wife Cheryl to sepsis in 2016.
Keen to bust misconceptions about grief, Katie wants people to know that grief doesn’t get smaller as time goes by – your life simply expands around it. Lots of people are triggered by key dates throughout the year, whether that is birthdays, anniversaries or the holiday period. Katie is keen for people to understand that they can reach out for a chat at any time, even if it’s been years since you’ve lost someone you love to sepsis.
For others who haven’t lost someone, but want to provide comfort to those who have, Katie advises you to ask if people want to talk about the person they’ve lost, as many people who are grieving love to share happy memories, and to ask the question ‘How are you today?’ rather than ‘How are you?’ – because that acknowledges that grief is an ever-fluctuating emotion that can vary day to day.