Luke, who hails from Wenvoe, near Cardiff, was 13 when his father, Alun, died from bowel cancer at the hospice in November 2008.
Seven years on, he now regularly returns to share his experiences with young people in similar situations.
Following their father’s death, Luke and his younger brother Henry were offered bereavement support counselling from Marie Curie social workers to help them deal with their loss. Luke recognises that without that assistance, he may have found it difficult to cope.
“I owe a lot to the Marie Curie Cardiff & the Vale Hospice,” he said. “It would have been so easy for me to go home and think about it on my own and look for relief and catharsis in alcohol, or drugs, or even just sitting on my own and getting depressed about it and not wanting to go to school, see my friends or do the things that I enjoyed.
“Everyone says that teenage years are horrible in themselves, when you don’t know who you are and you’re trying to find your own way in the world, but when you’ve just been through a bereavement as well, that can knock things off course a bit.
“Any time that I felt sad or angry, or any of these emotions associated with losing someone, Marie Curie were always there to tell me that it was okay to feel that way and helped me deal with what I was experiencing, because as a young person it is scary.”
Luke now studies psychology at Bath University; his father was a lecturer in psychology at Bangor University. He is hoping that his story can be a shining light to other young people experiencing bereavement.
“When you come to the hospice and you meet other children and young people who have experienced a similar thing, you see that they’re doing okay and it makes you feel that you can do okay as well. That’s what I hope to be now for these younger people – to show other people that if young people do lose someone they care about that they can still go on to be who they want to be and still have a smile on their face until the end of the day.
“I think that everyone at the group can tell that I’m not another adult trying to understand how they feel, I’m another young person who has been through a horrible experience and I’m trying to tackle each day the best that I can.
“I do think you only know what it’s like when you’ve been through it yourself, when you’re able to walk in someone else’s shoes and think back to how you were feeling at that time and how they’re feeling now. It comes from the heart.”
Andrew Wilson-Mouasher, divisional general manager for Marie Curie in Wales, said: “At Marie Curie we are committed to providing care and support throughout a person’s terminal illness, and this also extends to their family and loved ones. Bereavement support is an important part of this, and we are encouraged that Luke has benefitted from the support he has received and is able to support our work going forward.”
Find out more about the services at the Cardiff & the Vale Hospice on the Marie Curie website.