I’m sure, if you’re like me, the everyday crazy busyness of living – and loving – your life means that you don’t give much thought to how you’ll end your days.
But recently, with people in the public eye like Billy Connolly and former Rangers footballer Fernando Ricksen bravely sharing their stories of living with serious illness, it has brought it home to me that we all have a vested interest in how we end our days.
When the time comes, and if I need similar help, I hope that I will have all the care and support I need and be as much in control of my care as Billy and Fernando seem to be.
Fernando shared recently that he’s being cared for by a hospice, where he fully expects to spend the rest of his life.
I feel that there’s still such a stigma around hospices, that they are places full of sadness and I know that some people won’t realise that if Fernando is happy being there, the hospice really is the best place for him.
When you walk into a hospice you are instantly welcomed with a warmth, whether you’re the patient, family member or friend.
I know this from personal experience – the care given to my gran when she was in the Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow, was exceptional and the support provided to my family meant the world to us. We felt like we were all in it together and that she was never alone, she was always in a safe place with people we trusted and grew to know well.
Everyone has the right to good quality care at the end of their life, no matter their circumstances or where they live.
However, in the UK, every five minutes someone dies without the care they need at the end of their life. If we were more comfortable speaking about death, then could we help reduce or even eliminate that sad statistic and prevent people from still missing out?
My friend’s mum is being cared for in the hospice and their care for her is attentive, kind and considerate, and I’m so thankful.
I want that for everyone. It’s so nice to see that she has many of her home comforts; her dog can come in and visit and her family can stay overnight. She is not completely isolated from the rest of the world, as some people may think you would be in a hospice.
With events like the Christmas Fayre and Feel Good Friday – where patients can enjoy music from live singers who volunteer their time to come in – part of the outside world is brought in.
When I step inside the Marie Curie Hospice, Glasgow, I’m bowled over by friendly smiles on the faces of the staff and volunteers, cheering me up instantly. The groups and activities for patients, the therapies available and the work and commitment from the staff never fails to leave me in awe.
This year marks 65 years of Marie Curie providing its wonderful hospice care in Glasgow and, in the next few weeks, I’ll be donning my Marie Curie hat and volunteering to give out daffodil pins on the streets of the city to support the charity’s biggest annual fundraiser, the Great Daffodil Appeal. I’ll be collecting in memory of my gran and friends and family.
I’d encourage you to join me and give just two hours of your time to help out. It’s fun and easy and a great way to get involved in your local community and have a blether with people. I’ve done it for a few years now and I always am touched by the generosity of the people in my city.
There are always a few who stop and tell you about the difference that Marie Curie has made to their families, and that makes it all so worthwhile.
I know that every coin or note in my collection bucket will make a huge difference to families facing the toughest of times, making sure that Marie Curie nurses can provide expert care to people with terminal illnesses.
If you have questions about terminal illness or simply want to talk, the Marie Curie Support Line (0800 090 2309) is available for free confidential support and practical information.
Amber Zoe is a Radio Clyde presenter and ambassador for Marie Curie, mariecurie.org.uk