Several years ago, I lost my wonderful sister to Cancer. She was the youngest sibling of 3 and amazingly we never had a cross word. I helped her through every problem she had except the big one and sadly she died in my arms.
I struggled for a few months, being the strong one in the family, supporting bereft parents, trying to explain to my 8 year old daughter how and why this had happened until one day I fell apart. I couldn't sleep thinking about the last vision of her, in pain and whilst friends were wonderful, nothing helped until one day someone suggested I call the local Hospice for counselling.
A fabulous lady took me through the steps of recovery remembering the hour before Jill died, the day before, the week before until I could remember the laughter we used to share. One day I told myself I would pay the Hospice back for giving me back my life and helping me to see the good in everything. So now I say YOU are the unlucky ones who never met my crazy, incredible sister.
I am the luckiest, having spent 36 years with her. I also believe that life is so precious that we must live every day and materialistic things just don't matter. People count, people are friends no matter how much or how little you have. So it's taught me to care more, to listen, to have empathy and understanding, how not to judge, to accept everyone has their own take on life, and to respect differing points of view.
I do my utmost to help those in sadder moments, not advice just gentle suggestions but only when asked for. Grief for a lost one means you cared for them, that they are in your hearts and are a precious part of your life which you can try to remember with happier moments. Never forget but remember with love and happiness.
As pensions support for Dixons Stores Group I attended several funerals every month, representing the company, sending floral tributes or sending donations to the charity of choice.
When I left Dixon's it was time to pay back the Hospice, and I found I had time on my hands to deliver meals for the patients, helping them choose their dishes, encouraging them when they weren't hungry. Encouraging relatives to eat when they might not feel like it, so they could remain strong.
The Hospice is like a five star hotel, with the care and attention put into every meal prepared individually. Helping the patients to choose takes tact and persuasion, especially when they don't want to eat very much.
Interaction with the patients and relatives gave me greater insight, along with the courses I have attended at the Hospice, such as Understanding Fear and Anxiety and End of Life Care.
I have also had the privilege of attending several weddings to arrange and facilitate the blessing.
More frequently couples are getting married in exotic places and enjoying a party when they return home. Or perhaps they marry in a Registry Office and guests are invited at a later date to the celebration when the couple can choose their own vows and readings with friends and family in a less formal setting.
I have a wealth of contacts to make this day unique, from bagpipe players to staging experts and dance teachers but my greatest joy is helping the couple to share their love and commitment to each other in front of family and friends.