Ursula's story

Christmas is a special time for my family. It’s a time when we all come together to slow down a little and make memories. But someone will be missing this year and that’s my dear mum Magdalene. Mum died in October last year and while this won’t be our first Christmas without her, last Christmas was a blur after the funeral and adjusting to not having her around.

This Christmas we’ll be celebrating her life and I’m writing to ask you to join me by celebrating the lives of your loved ones at Prospect Hospice’s annual Light up a Life service. After the last few years of it being online, it will be nice for us all to come together in person again to celebrate.

It’s this time of year when you remember the simple things that meant so much. Mum and I used to go into Swindon town centre every Saturday and I’d drop her off at the café in M&S where she’d sit with a cup of tea and a slice of cake while I did a bit of shopping for the both of us. I miss that routine.

When she became ill around 18 months ago, it knocked us all. We were sent here and there for tests and procedures and no one could seem to determine what was causing her to feel so unwell. When Mum was discharged from hospital for the final time, she was referred for palliative care and a district nurse advised me to call Prospect Hospice. It was the best thing I ever did.

I remember calling just before 5pm on a Friday and a lovely lady called Mel answered the phone. She took the time to listen to me and she arranged for a nurse to come round to the house at 10.30am the next day – a Saturday morning. I couldn’t believe it. The next morning, Carmen arrived to see what support could be offered by the hospice. Up until then I’d felt like mum had been let down with her level of care. But now, I really felt like she was being looked after.

Mum was distressed by now after all the poking and prodding that had been going on but Carmen took the time to talk to her and help her understand what they needed to do. She also explained to me what may happen next and I felt like the hospice was there for me too, just as much as they were there for Mum.

Mum’s health deteriorated over the next couple of weeks, but the team made it possible for her to be at home with us for her last birthday. When we were sure the time was near, Carmen managed to secure a bed for her at the hospice. When we arrived, we settled Mum in a room that she had all to herself and she could see out in to the garden – it was much more like a home than a hospital, which was so lovely.

I stayed by her side all that day, through the night and into the next day, but that evening I felt I needed to go home to get some rest. The nurses were so sweet, they told me not to feel bad for going and reassured me that I could call whenever I wanted, 20 times an hour if I needed to, and that they’d call me if anything changed. In the early hours, I received a call to say Mum’s breathing had changed and it would be a good time to return. They told me not to rush and get there safely. They were just so lovely. I got there at 5.20am and I was desperate for mum to know that I was there and would be with her until the end.

A nurse stayed in the room with me so I knew what was happening, which was a real comfort. I thanked mum for everything she’d ever done for me and told her not to struggle on – I needed her to know it was OK to go. She shed a huge tear and took her last breath.

I have so much to be grateful for. The hospice was my saving grace when I wanted my mum to have the best ending possible.

I’ll be supporting Prospect Hospice’s Light up a Life event this year, by attending and dedicating a light on the tree to my dear Mum. I hope you can join me in celebrating the lives of the ones you love.

Light up a Life

Ursula has shared her story to support our Light up a Life service this year. If you would like to attend, or donate to the hospice, please click below to find out more.

Click here for more about Light up a Life