Share Your Story
Hearing about others' experiences can be helpful when dealing with death and bereavement. Do you have a personal experience that you'd feel comfortable sharing with the campaign? If so, let us know...
I was eight years old when my mum had her first stroke. I accepted that she was disabled and got on with helping her as much as I could. My dad worked full-time and did as much as he could when he was home. My three brothers, two sisters and I pretty much got on with things.
My mum had another stroke and a heart attack. She was in a bad way and we were all worried sick. It hit my dad especially hard, so much so he suffered a stroke and heart attack too.
Months went by and they came home. Both were affected, but differently. My dad never really got over things. He started having problems with his bowels and in 2001, after numerous tests, was diagnosed with bowl cancer. It had spread to his liver and his lungs and there was nothing any medicine or doctor could do to help. He passed away peacefully soon afterwards.
I was 21 and it was the worst time of my life. I had lost the best dad ever; watched him reduced to nothing in front of my eyes.
My mum was heartbroken. They had been married for over 40 years and she had lost her husband, her best friend, her whole life.
We all felt a big void in our lives. I started drinking heavily and was on a downward spiral for a while. But once I accepted I was never going to see dad again, things became a bit easier. I made a fresh start, moving to a nice new area and beginning a new job. Things started to look up. But in 2003, I had a phone call: mum was in hospital after yet another stroke and heart attack. I rushed to the hospital but got there too late - she had already passed away.
At 23 I had lost both my parents and my life fell apart yet again. I felt guilty about the fact I had moved away; that I hadn't been around a great deal. The truth was mum died of a broken heart; she was never the same after losing dad.
Life is hard. Things happen we can't control. It takes time to accept things we don't want to. My parents are always in my heart, I think about them every day. Time stands still for no man: don't think of the "What if's" and "What could of beens". Take each day one at a time. There's no time limit on grieving - and it's not a nice process. Even now, I still feel the loss of my parents, but it does get easier. Acceptance and time are great things.
The Dying Matters Coalition is led by the National Council for Palliative Care,
the umbrella charity for end of life care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Freephone 08000 21 44 66