Nichola and her family shared final days with her grandmother Penny in the Hospice Gardens. Penny was cared for on the In-Patient Ward in 2015. So, when Nichola was planning her wedding, she wanted to include memories of her grandmother in her special day.
So, following the ceremony at nearby Pembury Baptist Church in September, and after posing for formal pictures with their guests, Nichola and her husband Tom visited Hospice in the Weald for a very special set of wedding day pictures.
“When we were thinking about our pictures, one of the first places that popped into my head was the Hospice and the memory of how beautiful the gardens are,” said Nichola. “I could not think of a better place to go to.
I was very close to my Grandma – we had similar personalities really, both loud and excitable! As a child I often went to stay with my grandparents, we would go for the weekend and go to Church with them. I really loved those sleepovers. When I was older my grandparents lived with us, and one of my fondest memories is of Grandma whisking me off to distract me when I was so nervous waiting for my A level results. She was such a kind, caring person, she was always there for everyone, but we had a particularly special bond.
I went to visit her most days during her two months at the Hospice. The garden came to play a very important part for all of us. When she was well enough, she was able to sit in the gardens and talk with us, sharing family stories and memories. Sometimes we would bring the family dog to see her and just catch up on local news. It sounds so simple, but being able to spend that time together made such a difference, we can all treasure those moments. When she became too ill, the garden became the sanctuary that we as family members could use to relax for a while on our visits. Having that quiet space to take everything in is so important.
My Grandma and I shared so many conversations in those gardens, but the one that stands out for me was the day that she reassured me that when I met the right person I would know, and I would marry them. I was only 19 at the time, but it seems she was absolutely right – I met Tom just a year later.
Tom didn’t meet my Grandma but we have shared many stories and memories of her with him. He knows how close she was to me, and how important it was to involve her in our day. I wore one of her rings on my wedding day, so she was there with me the whole time.
Obviously losing a loved one is an incredibly distressing time. But however horrible that time was, so many of the memories are still happy ones, thanks to the Hospice staff and volunteers. They cared wonderfully for Grandma at the Hospice, and they were so good in caring for us as a family too; understanding what we were going through. Despite everything, the staff and volunteers brought a feeling of joy. We were taken care of, just as much as her.
So having pictures taken at the Hospice was very important to me. Our wedding day was warm and the gardens were perfect. It is three years since Grandma died on the Ward, but I still feel a very strong attachment to the Hospice. I am so grateful that they helped us to include her, and her memory, in our special day.”