I was only 16 when I lost my mum, Maura to cancer. As an only child I was very close to my mum. We loved doing girly things together – going shopping, for lunch, to the cinema. My Dad is a lorry driver, I was used to it being just me and my Mum a lot of the time.
So when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 I felt as though my whole world was crumbling down. Being only 14, I didn’t fully understand what was going on.
My mum underwent treatment but in 2011 the cancer returned and this is when we were first introduced to hospice care. At first I didn’t like the idea of my Mum going in to a hospice – I thought it would be a dark depressing place where people went only to die. It didn’t take long for me to realise that this really was not the case!
My Mum would go into the hospice for respite and pain relief, when she came home she would then be a lot stronger, and this allowed us to have good days and make precious memories.
One of my favourite memories is having a sleepover with my Mum in the hospice. We ordered pizza and watched DVDs. I snuggled up beside my Mum, she kept falling asleep. I’ll treasure this forever.
In December 2011, my Mum’s health deteriorated very quickly. About a week and a half before she died, I finally realised what was going to happen. I knew this was going to be her last Christmas, and with the help of all the wonderful staff at the hospice we arranged for the whole family to be together, with my Mum on Christmas day. My Mum passed away that afternoon. I just sat there holding her hand, I didn’t want to let go.
The first Mother’s Day was the hardest – the shops are always filled with cards and posters and these were just painful reminders that My Mum wasn’t here.
Every Mother’s Day we would always go out for a meal and spend a lovely day together. It was so hard on Mother’s Day to know everyone else was out celebrating with their Mum and I couldn’t do this.
I still miss my Mum every single day, and still, 6 years on find Mother’s Day hard to deal with. However I think it is important that I’m not scared to remember my Mum. Whether it’s lighting a candle, raising a glass, looking at photos or sharing memories. This might make me cry – but that’s not always a bad thing and I think it’s important to know that it’s OK to be upset. It’s so important to still try and enjoy the parts that you feel like you’re able to and cherish the memories you have – I know that’s what my Mum would want.
I’m so glad that I’m now within a position, as a fundraising assistant for Kilbryde hospice, that I will be able to help people and families in similar situations as I have been. I can’t imagine not having the support of the Marie Curie hospice throughout the last 6 months of my Mum’s life – they gave her amazing care and dignity and allowed us to make the very most of this time.
By Claire Crawford