"Over the six days she was in the hospice, she went from being afraid of dying to being prepared"

Jane was born with a hole in her heart and, although she lived longer than doctors expected, in her early 60s her health began to weaken.

She had been in hospital for several weeks when the staff told her daughter, Vicki, that there was nothing more that could be done for her mum, and referred her to their local Sue Ryder hospice.

Vicki dreaded telling her Mum – they’d always thought of the hospice as a sad and gloomy place – but Jane just wanted to be somewhere she could receive the medical care and support she wanted.

The Sue Ryder hospice gave Jane more than just specialist medical treatment; they gave her peace of mind.

"Gone were the tubes and machines she’d been attached to in hospital," says Vicki. "Instead, she sat looking as relaxed and pretty as ever in her nightgown with her own duvet, just as if she was at home. Mum was no longer a dying patient: she was back to being my Mum."

"She seemed so peaceful and calm that it made us all feel the same"

With Jane feeling happy, content and comfortable, they were even able to plan her funeral – picking out a special coffin, choosing the songs she would like to have played and organising a venue for tea afterwards.

This conversation, although incredibly difficult, helped Vicki come to terms with her loss – safe in the knowledge that she was fulfilling her Mum’s wishes and looking after her in death, just as she had looked after Vicki and her sister their whole lives.

One May morning, Jane began to feel uncomfortable and Vicki was warned that it would probably be her last day. In the early afternoon, Jane embraced her family for the final time and uttered her last words – "I love you" – before slipping peacefully away.

"It was as peaceful a death as you could get," Vicki remembers. "My tears were a mixture of losing my Mum, but also for her leaving us in such a dignified and beautiful way."

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