Heather tackles taboo subjects and plans her own funeral
“Not many people have the courage to speak so openly about the end of life and plans for their own funeral. But Heather knows that everything is in place exactly as she wants it, which gives me reassurance too.”
Heather and Kevin Cookson have peace of mind that their wishes are taken care of after tackling some taboo subjects during Heather’s stay at St Catherine’s Hospice.
Heather – who is receiving palliative care at the Lostock Hall hospice – has chosen her coffin, funeral music, and even her dress, wig and makeup, and says she doesn’t feel frightened about what’s to come.
“We asked for a celebrant to visit and she was surprised to be meeting with me,” Heather explains. “She said she usually speaks with family members after the person has died. But I wanted to have my say and make sure that everything is just the way I want it to be. I got the chance to talk to her about all the things I’ve loved in my life, and she got to know my personality and wishes.
“I know that my cousin is going to read a lovely poem, and I’ve chosen the songs which I’m hoping will make people smile. I think they will give people a little giggle as well because they know my sense of humour. One of the songs is ‘My Way’ which is quite fitting!
“I’ve always liked wearing nice makeup so I’ve chosen that as well as my dress and wig, because I want to look like myself. Kevin and I originally started talking about all of this years ago and we put our funeral plans in place then, but nothing needs to be set in stone and things can be updated if your circumstances or priorities change. I’ve just chosen a new coffin to one which uses natural materials, which I think is perfect for me.
“I have no fear about dying. I’m at peace and I feel happy and settled in myself knowing that I’ve done all this exactly how I’ve wanted.”
One of our aims at St Catherine’s Hospice is to shine the light on the importance of families and friends opening up about their end-of-life wishes.
We also want to raise awareness about ways people can support their loved ones, neighbours and colleagues through difficult times such as bereavement; and encourage everyone to write a will so that their plans and preferences are recorded.
Heather continues. “We want to make these important decisions while we can, because we know that things don’t automatically get passed on to your partner or family if you don’t have a will in place.
“It’s not just about where your money will go; it’s about making sure your wishes are met, like we’ve said we’d like our ashes scattered together, along with our little dog. We just want to make sure that nobody has anything to worry about or difficult decisions to make on our behalf.”
Kevin adds: “Not many people have the courage to do what Heather has done, to speak so honestly and openly about dying and how she wants her life to be celebrated and remembered. People don’t like to think about death so they put those conversations off, hoping they won’t need to deal with it for a very long time to come.
“But it’s never too early to start thinking about this kind of thing, and then at least you can have peace of mind that everything is in order.
“We found the process so much easier when my mum and dad died because they’d put everything in place. It took some of the pressure away at a difficult time, and I feel really reassured now that I understand everything Heather wants when the time comes.”
Great-grandma Heather, from Penwortham, has also spoken about the personalised and compassionate care provided by St Catherine’s Hospice.
“Even if I was a millionaire, I wouldn’t be able to get any better help and care. It’s absolutely marvellous here. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.
“The staff are wonderful – they’re knights in shining armour! We have a giggle and they’re really looking after me. It’s a fantastic place and I feel so peaceful and comfortable here.”
She adds: “I’d really encourage people to donate to their local hospice because if they knew how much love and attention is given to people and their families, they wouldn’t think twice about supporting these amazing places. St Catherine’s has beautiful grounds and an onsite café and shop, and it would do people good to visit to see what it’s really like here.”
- The St Catherine’s Hospice Wills Service allows people to write or update their will at a discounted rate, with a range of local reputable solicitors supporting the scheme.
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