Beeston community rallies behind Leeds widow who has poured her grief into moving painting

A woman from Leeds who lost her husband to pancreatic cancer has depicted her struggle with bereavement in a moving painting.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 2:44 pm

Sarah Thornton, from Beeston, said art has helped her to process her emotions and deal with a "whirlpool of devastating depression" since her husband's death.

A picture tells a thousand words and Sarah's most recent painting, 'Facing The Storm', conveys her loss during the pandemic.

Her husband David was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in October 2018. He died in February, aged 49, in the care of Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Headingley.

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Sarah Thornton, from Beeston, with her painting 'Facing The Storm'

Sarah, 42, said: "The piece of work depicts how I feel, an expression of my grief and bereavement during lockdown

"It helped me put down what I'm feeling. I've been in this storm and, like everything in life, you’ve got the choice of facing it or running away.

"I’ve really changed and become stronger and more resilient, I've had to face things I've never wanted to look at before. The painting tells the story of that."

David died during the third national lockdown and Sarah has had to battle through her grief without being able to see friends and family.

Sarah pictured with her late husband David and 13-year-old son Bradley

She hopes that by sharing her story, she can reach out to others facing bereavement and let them know they are not alone.

Sarah, mum to 13-year-old Bradley, added: "It’s been a really different experience than I imagined. We'd known he was going to die for two years, but coronavirus really affected the funeral and the wake. It all feels very wrong.

"I picked a coffin online as if I was going on Amazon, instead of sitting down and looking through a brochure. I thought I'd have people there if I got upset, but I had to wait until Bradley went to bed and plan the funeral on my own."

Sarah has been moved by the actions of people in Beeston, who have organised a fundraising page for her and Bradley, prayed for her in a WhatsApp prayer group and offered an outpouring of support through cards, gifts and text messages.

Beeston and Holbeck councillor Gohar Almass has praised the community for its support for Sarah

"The generosity from people I know and don't know has helped me through my bleakest moments yet", Sarah said.

"It's helped me feel 'held' and has given my son and I strength to face the days. I'm thankful for the loving kindness, Beeston stepped up and made my broken heart burst with pride."

Beeston and Holbeck councillor Gohar Almass has praised the community for its support for Sarah.

Coun Almass has himself battled with depression after losing his mother suddenly after she suffered a heart attack.

He has urged others suffering with their mental health to seek help.

Coun Almass said: "I got to a point where I could no longer navigate my feelings and felt completely isolated and cut off, which just added to my sadness and pain.

"I thought I was going through this alone until I found out about Sarah, an inspirational friend and neighbour in Beeston who was fighting a bigger battle than mine.

"We hope the piece will be shown at the Leeds Art Gallery to illustrate the inner struggle facing grief."

Coun Almass praised the work of south Leeds community groups for their support for isolated people during the pandemic, particularly MHA Communities South Leeds, Holbeck Together, and theater company Slung Low.

Important websites and numbers:

Visit Yorkshire mental health 24/7 support line, provides confidential advice - 0800 183 0558

Leeds Mental Wellbeing Service, for anyone aged 17 or over: children and young people: those struggling with alcohol and drug use: mood self-assessment is here: Mind: 0113 305 5800, or email [email protected]

For people in crisis:

Connect, open 6pm-2am on 0808 8001212 or online chat at www.lslcs.or.ykFor people in crisis: Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s 24/7 single point of access on Freephone 0800 183 1485.

Samaritans Leeds - 116 123 or 0113 245 6789

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