Remember someone special at Light up a Life this December

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Published on: Wednesday 29 Nov 2023 at 06:15

St Clare Hospice is inviting people to remember the loved ones they miss the most at one of the charity’s Light up a Life services taking place in December.

Light up a Life is a chance to come together with others who understand what it is like to grieve the loss of someone special, with candles lit at each service to represent the life and memory of a loved one.

This year, Light up a Life services are being held at the Hospice in Hastingwood on Thursday 14th December at 7pm, and Saturday 16th December at 4pm and 7pm. There will be readings and music as well as festive stalls to browse and refreshments served in the Hospice dining room after the service has ended.

Families with young children are invited to come along at 2.30pm on Saturday 16th December to take part in arts and craft activities led by St Clare’s Patient and Family Support Team before the service starts at 4pm.

Elaine McManigan, St Clare’s family support counselling co-ordinator, said: “If you haven’t been before, Light up a Life is a chance to come together with others who have been touched by the Hospice’s caring work, or who simply want to gather with those who understand what it’s like to grieve the loss of someone special.

“Our services here at the Hospice are wonderful, inclusive occasions with music, readings and refreshments, and a moment of reflection for those who have held a special place in our hearts. Everyone is welcome to attend Light up a Life, whether you have experienced St Clare’s care or not, and no matter how long ago your loss was.”

Mum-of-three Rebecca Dunn will be among those attending Light up a Life this year in memory of her husband, Neil.

She said: “Neil was the love and light of my life and our love story began when I moved to London to start a new job. Whilst in London, I decided to train in martial arts and I met my new instructor, a tall strong, beautiful man called Neil. We ended up going on a date and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The couple went on to have three children together, but it was shortly after the birth of their youngest child that Neil found out he had aggressive bladder cancer.

Rebecca said: “A couple of days after our daughter was born I carried her across the hospital to see her daddy, who has been admitted for investigation of a tumour in his bladder. A couple of weeks later, I took her in my arms to the doctor’s office to be told Neil had aggressive bladder cancer. He was only 43.

“After multiple operations and rounds of chemotherapy, Neil always came back fighting. But in 2021, he felt a twinge in his groin when he was working in the garden. We hoped it was nothing. But it was something. It was bone cancer.

“We had a summer of treatment and hope and Neil never gave up fighting to survive, despite the intense and debilitating pain. Unfortunately, the treatments, and hope, weren’t as strong as the cancer. His treatment at the hospital was withdrawn until his pain was under control. That’s when we were referred to St Clare Hospice.”

Dedications made through Light up a Life this year will help ensure St Clare’s skilled and compassionate team can continue to be by the side of people like Neil, and others like him, in their darkest hours.

Rebecca continued: “Neil was desperately looking forward to coming to St Clare as he was in a lot of pain at home. He needed undivided attention and constant medication and I couldn’t provide the level of care that St Clare could. Eventually, we had a meeting at the Hospice where we found out Neil would only come back home for end-of-life care. My heart shattered.

“He came home a couple of days before Christmas 2021. But on Christmas Day, he returned to the Hospice. They gave him comfort and eased his pain. In the end, home wasn’t the place for his final journey; St Clare was. And for that I am eternally grateful. No brave faces. No undue suffering. Just care, compassion and respect.

“Neil passed away in January 2022. I was with him in his own room, listening to his favourite music. Just me and my husband, with love to last a thousand lifetimes.”

For more information about attending a Light up a Life service this December, or to make a dedication in memory of someone you love, click here. Alternatively, you can email light@stclarehospice.org.uk or call 01279 773750 for more information.

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