Lauren was only 16 years old when she experienced the loss of her mum, who sadly lost her battle with cancer. She was supported with counselling from St Helena Hospice to help her through the grieving process to help her come to terms with the loss and huge changes in her life.
Lauren shares her story below:
“I was lucky to have my amazing mum for 16 years and I cherish that. But some days I really struggle and I hate the world because it’s so unfair that our mum was taken from us so young. She was 45 when she died, with so much more life to give.
Lewis and Luke are my two younger brothers and we all started counselling at the same time to talk about anything and everything we wanted. It was a lifeline.
At first, nothing made sense to me and during my first few weeks of counselling I’d just cry. I could scream and tell everyone that my world was a complete mess and it was ok to do that, and I was helped to admit that I wasn’t ok; that was a massive thing for me.
Once I had admitted that I wasn’t ok with the impending loss, I went into this mode of wanting to spend as much time as possible with my mum; my best friend.
St Helena Hospice helped us to do that and to create these incredible memories, plus, mum would have hated it if we all sat around and moped.
Everyone at the hospice made us feel welcome, even when it felt like we were taking over the whole place. We had birthday parties for my brothers, whose birthdays are just three weeks apart. For Lewis we decorated mum’s room with banners and balloons and for Luke’s we threw a party in the lounge, with decorations everywhere. Mum sat in the corner on this really lovely chair, and the whole family came. St Helena Hospice encouraged us to do whatever we wanted with mum and to spend time together as a family.
One day we made little angels together and gave them to some of the nurses. We’d all sit on the bed and mum would pick out the beads – she liked to do that. I cherish those memories more than I ever thought possible. Even though our mum was dying, we were having the time of our lives together. It’s strange really, how something so positive came from something so negative.
A year and a half after mum died, it was my 18th birthday and I received the most beautiful silver bracelet and card that she had arranged with the help of the hospice. It was a huge shock to all of us, no one had any idea. I will forever cherish that bracelet and the words inside the card:
“Lauren my gorgeous daughter, I so wish I could be with you to celebrate this special day. Have fun my honey bun. I’m always with you.”
And then she signed the card with a kiss for each year, my age and the date. I was so emotional knowing she had thought to do that for me and it just felt like that special bond we had was still there and she was still a part of these memories, even after her death.
My very first card from mum after she died was a Christmas card, our first without her and it read: “I’ll always be in your heart, I’ll always be with you and I love you.”
My nan has the remaining cards for future birthdays and special events. I don’t have any idea of how many there are or when I will get one. I think I might get one this year for my 21st but I think it’s special that after all these years she is able to surprise us. And I really look forward to it, especially at the moment because it’s been so long. And while I think about her all the time, it’s a different feeling – it feels like I’ve kind of got it in perspective with the rest of my life. Life is there to be lived and my mum would be so proud of me.
I went back to the hospice about six months after mum died and I saw a little girl going in for counselling. All I wanted to do in that moment was to give her the biggest hug and to tell her it’s going to be ok, to look at me and understand that nobody is perfect, but you get through it. And that’s the thing, although you will never be the same again because there is now a huge hole in your heart, you’ve got the memories and you have the support.
The right support, at the right time, in the right place and with the right person is always going to be helpful. Always. And that is what St Helena Hospice did, not only for me, but for my brothers and my dad too. As a family we communicate better than before and we really understand each other’s viewpoints.
There is no doubt in my mind that the support I received has made me the person I am today. If I didn’t have the support at the appropriate time, I can’t help but wonder where I would be now.
I’m now on my way to becoming a nurse, and that’s not something I would have done before all this. My initial plan was to become a midwife, but because I helped mum where I could and asked the nurses if I could help and they taught me how to do things, like how to make a hospital bed because I was interested in it. A while after mum died, one of the ladies said why not be a nurse? That really stuck with me. My first placement was oncology. I loved it, every single minute of it.
It was so important that the hospice didn’t just focus on my mum. They made a point to focus on her as a whole and that included us. Honestly, to have that support from the beginning was crucial, to all of us.”
In the last year, St Helena Hospice has supported more than 130 children and young people facing the loss of a loved one.
If you are struggling with loss and want to find out more about the services that St Helena Hospice provide head to their website for more information.