Mum was the anchor of our family. Dad was the planner and protector. They both died at St Wilfrid's 16 weeks apart.
Dad was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2015 and went through months of gruelling and intense treatment. By October 2016 though, he was ‘all clear’ and we all had a wonderful time celebrating their 70th birthdays. .
But in December 2016 we had a terrible shock. When Mum had an operation on a blocked gallbladder the surgeons discovered that she had cancer – and it was everywhere. That was possibly one of the worst moments of my life; we had no preparation for it.. Mum endured three rounds of chemotherapy. By April Dad’s cancer had returned and he began another load of treatments. As a family, we were suddenly carers for our gorgeous parents, who had been so healthy, active and well: in the space of four months, we had to wake up to the reality that they were going to die.
Despite Dad’s illness, he never stopped protecting and caring for Mum. This was made much easier by the support he got from St Wilfrid’s Clinical Nurse Specialist, Lorraine. She was calm and caring, helping Dad to understand what was going on with Mum’s treatment, and supporting him through his.
Mum was soon admitted to St Wilfrid’s and the nurses realised that her natural humility and dignity might stop her asking for help, even when she was in lots of pain. They showed such kindness, that Mum allowed herself to be cared for. This was also the comfort I needed, as it meant I could leave mum allowing me to look after dad and my two girls, who had GSCEs and A-levels to get through.
Quite out of character, Mum became frightened in her last few days and asked me to stay with her at night. The staff set up a bed for me and whilst mum slept, I would sit and mark school books. I cried many tears during those last few days and there was always someone to comfort me with a chat or a hug when I thought my heart would burst with pain.
Mum died at the end of last summer with Dad, my brother Paul and me by her side. I’ll never forget the compassion we were shown. The nurses treated Mum as their patient even after she’d died, and allowed us to quietly stay with her body for hours afterwards.
Unfortunately, there was little time to grieve for Mum. Dad’s health was deteriorating and by Christmas he too was admitted to the Hospice. Lorraine continued to support Dad, and he enjoyed the company on the ward, and visits from Buzz, the pet therapy dog. Christmas 2017 was a blur of emotions, but we had the warm embrace of St Wilfrid’s helping us get through. After Dad died, St Wilfrid’s Family Support Team helped me and the girls to at last grieve properly for both Mum and Dad.
For many people, Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions, and that will definitely be the case for us this year. But we’ll remember Mum and Dad and support St Wilfrid’s Hospice by taking part in the Light up a Life service.
St Wilfrid's helped our family through such a difficult Christmas. Are you able to help support families like mine, with a gift today? Anything you can give will help. Your support allows St Wilfrid's Hospice to continue providing time to listen, chat and care for patients and families, helping them make the most of the life they have left.
With warm thanks,
Christmas Carol Service
Join us for our annual Light up a life service at Chichester Cathedral on 9 December 2018 at 6pm
Our traditional service of carols and readings while lighting a candle in memory of your loved one, which you can take home if you would like.
Remembrance cards will be placed in a basket at the Cathedral where they will remain for the festive season.
During the Carol service,the Christmas tree lights will be switched on by a member of the Barrett family.