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I am incredibly grateful to have so many fun and happy memories to look back on with Mum – she was and still is such a big part of my life. We used to sit in the garden, watching the sun set with a vodka and tonic. I’ve always loved sunsets – I’ll often try and catch a sunrise or a sunset, whether that’s at home, visiting Mum and Dad’s house where I grew up, or out and about when away; I find them so relaxing and a perfect time for thought and reflection. My husband and I still tend to finish the week sitting in the garden relaxing and catching up, enjoying a vodka and tonic. The continuation of a tradition that I know Mum would approve of.
I treasure many happy memories of Mum. Whenever I came home from university, she would always make me my favourite tuna pasta bake dinner. It is a hearty and comforting dish, and remains a favourite of mine. When I went to university, Mum put together a handmade recipe book, and that recipe was one of them. I still have the book – it sits with my other recipe books, and I make sure that it is well used. My eldest son has started cooking with me, and he loves using Nanny’s recipes – not only am I looking back on memories of time spent with my mum, but I’m also making new memories with him and she plays a part in that too.
Mum preferred cooking savoury dishes, so my brother and I provided the cake and the sweet treats. Mum had two favourite cakes – chocolate brownie, rich and gooey in the middle with a crisp top, made by me, and lemon drizzle, made by my brother. Mum loved them so much – I know the recipe off by heart, and whenever I make a chocolate brownie, I think of mum, sometimes freezing it, so I can enjoy some whenever I fancy it. At Mum’s funeral we wanted to make sure that the things that she enjoyed were there so Rob and I each brought along our sweet treats, and when we all gathered afterwards we were able to share Mum’s favourite cakes with everyone.
I love looking back at photos and keepsakes that remind me of the times we spent together. For me, looking at photos, being surrounded by things that were Mum’s and talking about her often all bring me comfort. This is particularly important for helping keep those memories and stories alive for my children. Mum and I have always loved the garden, and I’m trying to keep carry that forward with my children. I want them to have the opportunity to see, learn, smell, and taste the things they’ve grown. We grow a little bit of a lot of things, and one of the things I’ve been trying to grow is cutting flowers with the aim that whenever I visit Mum I can cut some homegrown flowers for her. It’s my way of doing something for Mum, putting the love, care and attention into the flowers, to take to and leave with her.
When Mum was diagnosed with auto immune hepatitis, with the support of the amazing Hospice nurses we were able to grant her final wish and care for her at home until the end – soon after she was discharged from hospital, Mum died peacefully at home on the 6th of September.
Mum was my gentle guiding light and anchor point who never told me what to do but instead helped me arrive at my own decisions by listening and giving advice. Mum was my beautiful, thoughtful best friend who loved a party and was the most amazing Nanny to her four grandchildren.
In the early weeks and months after Mum died I had the counselling offer in the back of my mind, but I wasn’t at a point where I felt ready to take it up. I tried hard to practice self-care, take each day as it came and remember that grief is a very personal experience. I was coping ok and didn’t have any significant concerns but when I started having regular nightmares around losing those close to me last summer I decided to contact the Hospice about some counselling sessions. I went into the counselling very open minded and willing to see if I could do more to process Mum’s death and equip myself better for the future.
As I live a good distance from the Hospice, my counselling sessions were by phone. I hadn’t anticipated the almost immediate benefit of speaking to someone different. I am lucky to be surrounded by caring family and friends but talking to someone who did not know me, or Mum, meant that I could be free with my thoughts and feelings without subconsciously filtering my responses to protect the listener. One of my main worries was feeling that I was leaving Mum behind with every day and month that passed. The sessions helped me to acknowledge that Mum is so integral to who I am and what I do that she is always with me, wherever I am. The counselling opened doors to other memories and helped me acknowledge that we are Mum’s legacy and her grandchildren, Bobby, Annie, Rory, and Charlie are a shining example of that.
I think, counselling for me, was slightly different, as I was coming for counselling almost 2 years after Mum died – that said, it was still amazingly helpful – the time was right, for me. Counselling provided reassurance that I was on the right lines, and it helped me to explore feelings I would not have thought of otherwise. The whole process was very positive, and I am very thankful that the service was there for me to access. Wherever you are timewise after the death of a loved one I cannot recommend the counselling service enough. Huge thanks to Nick and the team for being there when I needed them.
"I love looking back at photos and keepsakes that remind me of the times we spent together. For me, looking at photos, being surrounded by things that were Mum’s and talking about her often all bring me comfort. This is particularly important for helping keep those memories and stories alive for my children."
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