Hospice supporter encourages public to remember their loved ones at Christmas

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.

A St Barnabas Hospice volunteer and supporter is encouraging people to take part in this year’s Light up a Life campaign to remember loved ones.

At Christmas time each year, St Barnabas Hospice encourages people to dedicate a light in memory of a loved one, which will go on one of their Trees of Life across Lincolnshire. This year, volunteer and supporter Margaret Norton is inviting members of the public to join her in sharing their Christmas memories.

Margaret has volunteered in the St Barnabas Hospice Inpatient Unit in Lincoln for 25 years. Her husband John sadly died at the hospice three years ago – just a year before their 60th wedding anniversary. Margaret said:

“John had been ill for some time with bowel cancer, which then spread to his spine. He was in so much pain and I was struggling to lift him, so it was such a relief when he went into the hospice. I have volunteered in the Inpatient Unit for 25 years, so I knew he would be in good hands. At first it was strange to be on the other side of the cups of tea, but it really was the nearest thing to being at home. I felt so cared for and John’s pain was finally under control.

“John was at the hospice when the Torchlight Procession took place that year. I remember going outside as hundreds of families came past with torches lit for loved ones. Nurses and patients came outside, and the doors were left open so that other patients on the ward, like my John, could still hear the pipe band.

“I have always known about Light up a Life and the Torchlight Procession, but after losing John they took on a whole new meaning for me. I now donate to shine a light in John’s memory at Christmas – the time of the year when family means the most to me. I also like to attend the Light up a Life church celebration in Lincoln with my family. We take so much comfort from attending the celebration and having our light, and it gives us the time and space to think about our special memories with John.”

This year the hospice is once again placing Trees of Life at various locations across Lincolnshire, and are encouraging members of the public to dedicate a light on one of the trees to a loved one. St Barnabas will then send out a personalised card and Light up a Life decoration for their Christmas tree at home.

Margaret said: “My special Christmas memory of John is the makeshift Christmas trees that he would always bring in from the garden. He would cut the top off our Leylandii tree, wedge it in a bucket with bricks, and tie bits together with string!”

Update: Margaret sadly died during the coronavirus pandemic. Her final wish was to die in the hospice where she had volunteered for 25 years, and she died peacefully surrounded by her colleagues.

More information

Dying Matters is a campaign run by Hospice UK that works to create an open culture that talks about death, dying and bereavement.

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