From colleague to daughter

Categories: People & Places.

How does it feel when you work at a hospice and someone you love is admitted? A member of staff at John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham shares her reflections.

I’m sitting in a room called Larch watching my mum as she sleeps. Three days earlier we learned no treatment was going to save her – and so we’ve brought her to John Taylor Hospice.

I’ve been in this room, Larch, many times before because I work at John Taylor Hospice. But in all those visits to this room it was just a room – it never crossed my mind it would be the place where I would say goodbye to my mum.

When I joined the hospice it was a job, a good job at a lovely place, but my home life and my work life were separate. John Taylor had no link to my family or our futures. Five years later it’s where my mum is spending her last days.

People did ask me whether it was a good idea to have my mum cared for in the same building where I spend each day at work. But how could I not? For years I’ve heard families tell me the hospice care was second to none – how can I deny my own mum that care? Just because I might find it difficult afterwards.

That’s not to say it’s not strange. Colleagues who I’m usually discussing fitness regimes with over lunch are suddenly providing personal care for my mum. Others who I know to say hello to are now involved in the most emotional moments of our lives. Doctors who I sit in meetings with are telling us things we don’t want to hear.

And while they are providing loving care for my mum they’re also checking up on the rest of my family – including me. Somehow I have moved from colleague to family member in a way that feels natural and inclusive.

When the end comes and my mum dies I find comfort in her being with my colleagues. Knowing she is not being cared for by strangers and that these people will treat her as they would their own mums helps with the devastating blow of her death.

Coming back to work isn’t easy – as a family and as a daughter I’m hollowed out by the loss of my mum. But I’m lucky to be among people who feel comfortable asking me how I’m getting on, who will share their own experiences of loss, who are not afraid to talk about my mum and her death.

From now on there’s a duality in my relationship with the hospice. When I attend events like Midsummer Reflection or Light up a Life I’m no longer only a staff member, I’m also someone with my own grieving and remembrance.

I walk past Larch frequently, knowing that other families are in that room, facing the separation that we are now living. My only hope is that they too find comfort in being here.

This feature was originally posted on John Taylor Hospice’s blog, where staff, volunteers, patients and supporters share their thoughts, feelings and experiences. These may be individual and personal so many of the posts are anonymous.