Dying Matters

I’m not sure how to start or what to say which isn’t like me in the slightest.

Last month, at work, there was a “Dying Matters” week advertised and they were asking people to join in the Big Conversation, which was all about making sure that people know what you want to happen to you when you die. This made me think about writing this as any of us could be taken at any time. It’s not a nice thing to talk about with your loved ones but it is such an important thing that needs to be discussed.

The people that know me, know that this last year has been the worst year of my life. It’s been hard and we’ve all felt desperate, heart broken and unable to process what happened.

It has been nearly a year since Lily died. She had an untreatable form neuro endocrine cancer that had, by the time that had found it, infected virtually every organ of my beautiful 21 year old niece’s body.

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Lily

We have struggled to comprehend how quickly she was taken. And I’m so angry with people that say that she was only my niece so I shouldn’t be so affected by this. But I have always loved Lily and her sister, Amber, as though they are my own children. And I never expect to meet anyone like Lily again. She was easy to love, as proved by everyone that met her.

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She had managed to do many things in her short life, yet somehow not enough. She was an amazing artist, loved acting, taught art to children and even wrote a children’s book(unpublished at the moment so if anyone is reading this that knows how to get this done please shout up). She was a bit kooky (aren’t we all in some way?) but sweet. She started her own business, called the Octopode Factory when she left school selling her artwork digitally and became famous within the world of mixed media crafters. I’m proud to say I have her first watercolour painting which she painted with me.

Having had this happen to my family recently it has brought forward so many questions about death and what we would like to happen to us when we die. I know that I’ve struggled to talk about this. One of the things that remember debating with my sister when we were told Lily was terminally ill was that she had no idea how to approach Lily and ask her what she wanted to happen to her when she had gone. She was too young to have even thought about it. And she was too ill to have a full discussion.

I’ve had to answer all sorts of questions from medical ones to a simple “why?”. I say simple, but it’s one of the hardest questions to answer when it’s a child trying to understand the death of a loved one. She still doesn’t understand why Lily has been taken. She worries about what will happen to her if either of her parents die. And she worries about dying herself. At 10 years old she is far too young to discuss her choices about cremation or burial. But it is something that I will be discussing with her when she’s ready.

I have had my “big conversation” and made sure that I have made my final wishes known. I urge you all to do the same.

Lily passed away on 9th July 2015.

I walk past people that helped to care for Lily on the different wards she was in. Most days are difficult if not excruciatingly painful. It hasn’t lessened my emptiness. I still miss her every single day.

Make the most of every day you have with the people you love.

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Lily and Amber

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