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Elaine Ritchie: I took part in the Twilight Walk to celebrate my mum’s life

News   •   Aug 01, 2019 10:00 BST

Elaine’s mother, Val

In March 2018 my world fell apart when my mum died. At the beginning of the year she was diagnosed with a metastatic pancreatic tumour.

4 years earlier I lost my dad and after that day it was just mum and I. We had no other immediate family so we became each other’s world. We would see each other every day and over the next couple of years as mum’s mobility deteriorated due to other health issues, I became her carer. Mum’s inability to walk far didn’t stop us, we got a wheelchair and I pushed her miles and miles making memories, having laughs and becoming closer than we had ever been before.

Mum’s diagnosis was such a shock. We knew we had a long road ahead of us with any treatment that she needed but our hopes were taken away from us when the oncologist told us that mum’s condition was too advanced for treatment.

We had previously been referred to ellenor for support. Mum had volunteered for ellenor for 10 years and was happy to be referred. I, on the other hand, as an ex palliative care nurse wasn’t so keen. My mum deserved the best care and I wasn’t sure there was anyone other than me that could give her that level of care. We were visited by ellenor nurse Tracey who instantly put my mind at rest, mum loved her and I knew we were in the best hands possible. Tracey helped me see it was time for me to be my mum’s daughter and not her nurse. The relief that I didn’t have to carry the responsibility of her care all on my own anymore was indescribable. ellenor were at the end of the phone 24/7 for us and helped me to spend mum’s remaining days being the daughter I needed to be. I will never be able to thank them enough for the most precious time I could ever have hoped for.

Mum’s funeral was carried out my ellenor chaplain Ben. He helped to give my mum the best send-off I could which was so important to me. Ben still supports me now.

When mum died I was on my own and family support worker, Sally became my lifeline providing a listening ear, practical advice and that all important hug. I was also helped beyond measure by volunteer counsellor Joanna.

It seems when you are bereaved people are around for you in the early days but they gradually fade away as you are meant to get back to “normal”. Normal doesn’t exist anymore and I struggle everyday to come to terms with losing my mum but ellenor have remained one of the few constants in my life. Over a year later, I pick up the phone on a bad day and they are there.

I took part in the Twilight Walk last year to celebrate mum’s life and it was just a small way to say thank you to the wonderful organisation that are supporting me through the worst time of my life. Myself and friends in our orange tutu’s, fluorescent face paints and flashing glow sticks helped to paint Gravesend’s roads orange and highlight the work of ellenor. With chips and choc ices handed out on the way to keep us going, spirits were high as everyone was there for the same cause. I will be doing the Twilight Walk again this year with perhaps even more fun accessories as I will be forever indebted for the most amazing care I could ever have asked for. Thank you ellenor. xxx 

If you’re inspired by this story sign up to ellenor’s Twilight Walk, as a team or individual, on Friday 20 September at the Cyclopark in Gravesend. If you would like to find out more about our services and how ellenor can support you during difficult times, please contact our Homecare and Wellbeing team on 01474 320007 or email info@ellenor.org

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