Joanne lost her mum five years ago. She tells us about her memories of her mum and the care her mum received at Martlets.
“Five years on from losing my mum and the pain is still very raw some days.
The saying time heals I think is true to an extent. I don’t cry every day anymore. I can now bring myself to hold her dressing gown or piece of jewellery but time doesn’t heal. My heart will never be healed from her loss or any of the other losses I’ve had. Time just makes you realise that you learn to live with the hurt and adapt. I think the moment you realise that – that is the healing part.
Although we were told how much longer mum had left to live, it was still an absolute shock when she died. Not knowing how I would live my life every day without her. The person who had been there since the very beginning. She brought me into this world, loved me unconditionally, wrapped me up in cotton wool, stood up for me, taught me what was right and wrong, wiped away my tears and supported me. Mum and dad made me into the person I am today.
When mum went into Martlets it was very surreal
Seeing her being wheeled out of our family home where her and dad had brought us all up over the last 40 years. I had never been in a hospice before as I hadn’t had to but the lovely feeling of comfort there was amazing. Yes, it was full of terminally ill people but there was a love that surrounded every inch of the place. There was even a cat that lived in the hospice and visited all the patients, which brought a lot of joy to everyone.
After a few days, mum had gone downhill and we sat by her bedside for about 12 hours. I remember the nurses telling us that we can order a takeaway. None of us had eaten all day and to help ourselves to plates and cutlery – they told us to treat the hospice like ‘a home from home’. It was such an odd feeling, we felt guilty for wanting to eat. My sister said that mum would want us to eat, as she knows how much I love my food! But even I couldn’t finish it.
Whilst we were sat with her, we were all reminiscing and talking to her. The nurses said she would still be able to hear us, even though she couldn’t respond and that was so true. As soon as she heard one of our names, her eyes flashed open for a second – I could see those beautiful blue eyes once more. There was even a moment of complete and utter laughter – an actual belly laugh! My sister said something when we were all reminiscing. We found it absolutely hilarious, we were all crying with laughter. It was such a beautiful moment and a real tonic at a truly heartbreaking time. Never would I have thought I would find anything to laugh at in such an upsetting time. But there were so many emotions flowing that I would never have imagined possible.
I’ll never forget watching mum take her last breath and my sisters and I all desperately trying to kiss her face one last time before she left us.
We could stay with her for as long as we wanted after she passed away. I didn’t want to leave the hospice and leave her there. It was the most painful thing.
Even during the hardest times, you can rise up
I remember us leaving there in a daze in the early hours, around 2.30am, the long journey of grief for her just beginning. I remember everything seeming so loud to me; the closing of the car door, the traffic on the road, the front door keys jangling as I got them out of my bag. It’s like I felt so fragile, like I could break at any moment. Getting into bed in those early hours, knowing I would never call her again to say goodnight or speak to her ever again was a feeling I can’t describe, even now – because even 5 years on, I still can’t believe sometimes that I am never going to see her again.
I have learned that even during the hardest times, you can rise up and you can get through it. It helps me to write down my feelings. I’ve also learned to ride the waves of grief when they come. Sometimes I know it’s coming, then it hits with full force like a wave. I don’t know how long I have to ride each one. Other times I can be feeling fine and I’m suddenly hit – by hearing a song or seeing something in a shop I could buy for them, then realising I can’t. It’s all part of the journey of grief that I have gradually learned to accept.
Martlets were truly amazing
The care and support was phenomenal. They told us to treat the hospice as our second home and they really did make us feel like it was. They were angels.
It was my birthday last week and I think birthdays can get you thinking and feeling sentimental and emotional. Mum would always be the first person to call me to wish me a happy birthday. I’m doing the best I can now to make the most of my life. I know that is what she would want for me. There really is nothing quite like a mother’s love.”