Light up a Life is a simple yet highly symbolic message delivered by hospices at this time of year.
At St Ann’s we hold six services of remembrance across our main hospice sites, local churches and Manchester Cathedral. These popular services are designed to celebrate the life of someone special who has died and can’t be with us at Christmas and in doing so they help raise essential funds.
The spirit of remembrance has been at the forefront of our minds this year as we mark the centenary of the First World War. The Poppy appeals are also an opportunity for families to honour loved ones and there was one particular story which really moved me.
It concerned a father who explained how in his heart he still continues his relationship with his soldier son who died in Afghanistan. Fellow members of his son’s platoon created a memorial and the father was quite inspirational in the way he articulated how he was dealing with his grief.
Similarly, Light up a Life is a chance to pause, reflect and celebrate what is important and precisely what we value.
After all, when roles and titles are stripped away, what really matters is family and friends and our relationships with them. Not that work and hobbies aren’t important, but relationships and understanding our roles as human beings is what counts.
What defines me, is my role as a mother and grandmother and as a friend and colleague – though of course my work has always been really important.
It’s all very well trying to engender a feeling of celebration and acknowledging life but that can be difficult in the context of considering this could be the last Christmas for some of our patients.
There is no denying the poignancy and pain of knowing this may be someone’s last Christmas so we support our patients and families as much as possible.
There will be people at our Light up a Life services who lost someone five or 10 years ago but they have built remembrance into their Christmas and see it as a time of year to stop and reflect. For others they may be recently bereaved and the staff at St Ann’s will be there to offer care.
I know Christmas means many different things to us all but sometimes it’s too easy to get caught up in the conveyor belt of consumerism. Working at the hospice is a privilege and I know for our staff our Light up a Life services really illustrate what hospice care is all about.