Monday, 20 December 2010

A sad blogpost......................

I decided quite a while ago that I wanted to write a post about something which is very hard to talk about at this time of year but which has such a huge impact on many of my friends and family and probably yours as well. Warning, then this will be abit emotional and if you have gone through a recent bereavement you may not want to read any further.

So this blogpost is about the sadness which many of us experience around Christmas as well as the joy. This was brought home to me personally especially this week, when I found out my best friend's mum was dying, that a relative who I hadnt been in touch with for some time had lost her father in the summer and that my god daughter's parents had seperated and are going through a court battle at the moment. It reminded of the hardships we face as human beings and that for many of us Christmas can be bittersweet.

I have wanted to tell my personal story for along time but I feel this year is the right time. It all began in 1985 January when I was a student nurse on my second ward. It was a haematology ward, ie blood conditions, and dealt primarily with patients who had differing forms of leukaemia. I had seen one young patient die on my first ward, but the young person I am going to tell you about has stayed with me to this day. He was younger than me and was a champion athlete when he was diagnosed. He came into the ward for treatment and I spent a bit of time with him but it was after I left the ward we became friends.
I remember the day very well. I was working on the orthopaedic ward by then and I was walking back from theatres after taking a patient down, when a trolley went past, I think I heard my name but I didnt immediately recognise the person cos he was bald. But what I do remember is his saying ''I know that nurse''. As I walked back to the ward, it suddenly pinged in my head who it was and so after my shift I went round to visit him. He'd had a Hickman line inserted and was awaiting further chemotherapy. That was the start of a friendship which even though it was brief has stayed with me over the last 25 years or so. We would listen to music, Jon and Vangelis as I remember, watch The Young Ones and talk about life, the universe and everything. I remember the last visit I made which must have been Christmas time 2006. He was looking tired but nothing he couldnt handle he said.

I found out that he had died in the worst way I can imagine, we were on study weeks in block and were discussing euthanasia of all things and a couple of my fellow students mentioned his name. I asked them what they meant and they explained he had died in pain. I was beside myself, in those days we werent meant to show emotion about our patients, it wasnt the done thing, but I had lost a friend.

I didnt really have a chance to contact his family as in those days going to the funerals of patients wasnt common either so it wasnt until 1987 that I met his mother again for the last time. It was December 22nd 1987 and I was taking another patient up in the lift to theatres, when a lady walked in whom I recognised as his mum. She also recognised me and we had a brief chat. She explained she was visiting the old ward in memory of him as it was a year since he had died. I told her how sad I was and gave her my very belated condolences. Since that day, I have thought about him often and even though it was a long time ago I shed a few tears and light a candle on the 22nd. 

Tonight, I am also thinking about my friends and family who are going through this experience themselves, and I send them my love and also to those of you reading who need support and love. I pray their Christmases will have both joy and peace.

I will finish this with a sad event which happened while I was writing, my dear friend has just phoned me to tell me her mother died this evening so I will keep her and her family in my thoughts and prayers now and over the coming days and weeks as they grieve for a much loved mother, wife and nanny. 


  1. Brave to share all this Jo. I am so sorry to hear about your friend's mother. To lose a loved one is always hard, but somehow Christmas time is the hardest of all. I wish her Peace this Christmas.
    As for your story, it must have been desperately hard to hear about your friend's death in such a way. I can't really imagine how I would handle that...
    We lost my dad in October 2000. He died of a heart attack, so it was sudden and a big shock. He was only 58. That Christmas was hard, also the fact that I missed my last chance to see him, as I forgot he was visiting and had gone out! He waited as long as he could - we rushed home when I remembered, but missed him. I did apologise on the phone and he was very understanding, but still.. A couple of weeks later, he died.
    I have tried not to beat myself up with bad thoughts. It doesn't help anyone - not me, not Dad... I have good memories and that's what I like to remember when I feel sad. It does help and I know it doesn't mean I love him any less.
    I hope your memories of your friend will help you to cope with the sadder remembrances too.
    This year my BF is spending Christmas at home with her children, following a really miserable 18 months, while she and her husband sorted out their divorce. It started out amicable, but sadly it didn't stay that way. Last Christmas was miserable for her - though she tried to be positive - and cold, with no money to buy gifts etc. This year things are much better, as the finances are sorted out and they are back in the family home, which is warm. I hope your god-daughter and her parents are able to have a reasonably quiet Christmas, with at least a temporary truce... next year's should be better - it does take time, but life does get back to normal - even if it's a "new normal".
    The same goes for a bereavement, though it is so hard for a while...
    I wish you the comfort of the Christmas Message and a peaceful Christmas with your family and friends. XX

  2. Thank you for sharing your story Jo. I am thinking of a precious friend whose funeral was on a 1st December and how hard Christmas was the year we lost her, no, it never leaves you x

  3. :( So sorry to hear this Jo, Christmas is not always an amazing time for everyone. My friend has just brought three tales of sadness with her tonight, all ending with a death. It put my moans and worries into perspective.

  4. We found out my mum was dying shortly before xmas 2003....we thought it would be a very sad xmas.....but for the first time in years the whole of her family came together on xmas day....she had a wonderful final xmas day sorrounded by everyone she turned into the perfect xmas.
    Thanks for sharing this,Jo.

  5. A beautiful and brave post, Jo. Thank you for sharing it. Sending you my love, and thinking of everyone for whom this Christmas is in any way tinged with sadness xx

  6. Sometimes I get so caught up in all my planning and excitement that I forget that Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. We must have been doing our training at a really similar time, I was Jan 1986 set at Charing Cross Hospital, my first Christmas there was hard it was nights on the paediatric ward. Only the really sick kids stayed in so it was quite sad and I remember 2 really clearly, a twin who had leukaemia and a young girl, Rachel, with bone cancer. Years later I found a book about Rachel in the sale section in the bookshop it spoke of her journey with cancer and how she died. I do often think of her courage and determination. I have so many memories from those nursing days, I really grew up a lot being faced with death and dying from the outset. I guess these experiences are what made us the nurses and more importantly the people, that we are today. Thanks yet again for sharing such an honest account of a difficult time xxx

  7. Thank you for this very, very moving post Jo. My personal story means that my birthday is always a time of sadness and this is a timely reminder for me that others have a harder time at Christmas. Very well worth writing, and reading.

  8. Such a thoughtful post Jo, thank you for sharing. We lost my Nan in 2004 to cancer and I always remember her last Christmas with us, sending you big virtual hugs :)

  9. Thanks, Jo, for a thoughtful post. My daughter and her husband are still grieving for their twins that they lost late in October. Such events change all of us forever, but it's especially hard at the holidays. I lost my mom when I was 20, and it's the holidays when she was so sick and right after she died, that I remember so well. They were so hard for me and my brother.


Hello and thank you so much for stopping by. It is always a pleasure to read the comments I receive and to meet new friends. I try and reply to comments on friend's blogs as much as possible. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog and look forward to seeing you here again soon. Love Jo xxx