After Jamie Collier’s father Jonathan died at our Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice a few years ago, she wanted to use her writing skills to record the story of his final days and thank us at Sue Ryder. In this blog post, she recalls how getting involved in this year's Christmas Appeal has helped her to deal with some of her grief in a positive way following his death.
Grief. Five little letters.
It's hard to understand how such a tiny word can encompass so many emotions.
Whatever you are grieving for, be it a family member, a friend or a lover, loss is loss.
Grief presents itself differently in everyone. There is no right or wrong way to feel, yet grief can feel lonely and isolating.
“I wanted to show just how special Sue Ryder hospices are”
I was 24 when my Dad died. It is something I still deal with every day. It has affected every part of my life and, if you have lost someone, I am sure you understand. You never truly get over it or come to terms with it; you just learn how to better deal with it.
As a writer, I use words every day to share stories. I wanted to see how I could share Dad's story to raise awareness of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
I was all too aware that most people only understand what a hospice is like when they or someone they love needs one. I hoped that I could share an insight into palliative care and show just how special hospices are.
“I found sharing Dad’s story gave me a great deal of comfort”
The hospice team were warm and welcoming and I was kindly invited to speak on stage at the Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice Starlight Hike 2018.
I found it enjoyable, emotional and exhilarating in equal measure. Overwhelmingly, I found that sharing Dad's story surrounded by people who had been through similar situations gave me a great deal of comfort.
Following on from this, I wrote an article for the hospice about our time there.
Dad was cared for in the hospice over the festive period so I shared memories of building a snowman in the grounds, completing detailed jigsaw puzzles and bringing in the New Year watching fireworks from the windows. All the while, we held Dad's hand and let him know how loved he was.
“A new perspective on my grief”
To my delight, this article then formed part of the national Sue Ryder appeal for Christmas 2018.
Photographs of Dad and I were included alongside my words across the postal and digital campaigns.
In writing down my experience, reliving those moments and revisiting painful memories, I was able to focus on my grief but from a new perspective.
“I know Dad would be proud of me”
I knew sharing what we went through could help other people. What I didn't realise was just how much it would help me too.
Shortly after the postal mailing had been sent, the Sue Ryder Supporter Care team received a call from a supporter who wanted to convey how much he appreciated my words in the appeal. He lost his wife two years ago.
Hearing this really resonated with me. Just like being surrounded by supporters at the Starlight Hike, I was again reminded that I was not alone.
As part of my YouTube channel, I have filmed videos about grief and our time at the hospice in the hope that people going through a similar time may find peace and hope in them.
Working alongside Sue Ryder to raise awareness has really helped me to work through my grief in a positive way. I know Dad would be proud of me.
“My grief is a part of who I am – just like Dad”
Now, as Christmas approaches, we are often confronted with fear about how to face the festive period without people who have passed. However, this year, I find myself feeling more positive, uplifted and focusing on the future.
Sharing Dad's story has helped me to work through some of my grief and given me hope that some good has come out of a terrible time.
My grief will never go away; it is now part of who I am. Just like Dad, who will always be with me. Yet now, I know that there are others who understand the pain of grief, and this gives me strength and hope for the future.
If you are reading this following the loss of a loved one, I hope that, in time, you will feel the same. You are not alone.
Help us be there when it matters for more families this Christmas
More advice from Jamie in this video:
Do you need support?
If you are grieving this Christmas, remember our Online Community is there for you 24/7.
Daughter of patient
Jamie's late father, Jonathan, was cared for at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in 2009. You can read more from Jamie in her personal blog https://thriftymummathriftybubba.com.