When you’re 13 years old and your dad dies,
your whole world falls apart.

Ellen's StoryEllen's Stor

As a Totara Hospice Youth Ambassador Volunteer, I have learnt that death doesn’t discriminate young, old, male, female or culture - and it affects everyone, my name is Ellen Davis and I lost my dad.

One thing is for sure, I feel more proud of my dad today than ever before. His spirit, humour and steadfast approach to honour his time whilst he was living in the face of what he was going through, is something I will always admire. I am honoured to share a little of my dad James’s, my mums and my story. So you can understand the importance of hospice in our community.

A cancer diagnosis for my dad James shook our whole family. How could it be? In the months that followed, my mum and dad began to realise life wouldn’t be the same again. However, I thought that it would be fine; I was 10 and believing he was going to come right. I never once had a thought in my head that my dad was not going to get through it. Of course mum and dad would beat this illness and dad was just losing a bit of hair! I thought my world would continue as it was and had always been, but it wasn’t to be, and at the age of 13 my life changed forever. I lost my dad, and nothing can prepare you for this truly overwhelming journey.

Having my father being diagnosed with an illness that set a time on the end of his life was so unexpected, frightening and such a strain on our family. Suddenly, you have to pick up this burden at a time when you are so sad – and for me – going through the most harrowing time of my life.

If there wasn’t the hospice in the background to pick up a whole lot of the day to day stuff, I know my mum and I would have not coped as we did. As a family, you can do lots of the support –however you can’t do all the nursing care and we couldn’t be there with my father all the time. As life does carry on no matter the circumstances you are living in.

There is a perception that when people are terminally ill - in their last dying days, they go to a hospice. That, I now know, is just a small part of it. Although that is a very important part of hospice - and where my dad spent his last days - when my dad was diagnosed, he still had so much living to do in this new stage of life he was in. And in order for dad to do this as best as he could, we needed people who had done it before, we needed hospice.

I always miss my dad however there are certain times when it aches the most, family and friend celebrations will never be the same. My dad was an amazing cook and always in the kitchen, when we get together I miss this, the smells of the spices cooking the amazing food and simply him being there.

Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss. I am sure some of you have already - and like me you will learn that days and nights roll on, and even though your heart is broken and you cannot imagine living without them. You continue to grow and experience life. My dad will always be a part of me, there is a depth and understanding in me that I know will carry me forward in all that I do in my life. Please know that these memories I have shared are not sad thoughts, but moments I will always cherish....

Read Ellen's full story here

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