There are very few people, if any, who have not experienced death at some point in their lives.
In an ideal world, losing someone close to us is something that happens rarely but for Jill Cox from Kelsall, she had to deal with the deaths of three extremely close family members within a relatively short time.
Over a four year period, Jill lost her father, mother-in-law and stepfather-in-law after various illnesses - and the prolonged experience had such an exhausting and emotional impact on her that she decided to write a book to help others facing similar situations.
“With each relative’s illness and death I learned so much. Each loved one’s experience was different and what they wanted and needed was unique to them, so each process had to be experienced in its own right without making assumptions,” explains Jill.
Emotional experiences took their toll
“Emotionally, the three experiences took their toll - my dad died within 3 months of knowing he was suffering from some form of dementia so he and Mum required a lot of support in a short period of time. He died peacefully in hospital.
"My father-in-law had a reoccurrence of cancer and again, his health deteriorated quite quickly, so our focus was on supporting my mother-in-law so she could support him before he died peacefully in his local hospice.
“Then my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer and chemotherapy was unsuccessful. My husband, a close family friend and I cared for her in her own home with the support of MacMillan and District nurses,” she added.
Before this, Jill says she knew nothing about the process of dying and the last stages of life.
“It was hugely stressful and tiring but I noticed the more I knew about the possible support and choices, my anxiety became more manageable and I was more able to support my relatives and be there for them as they made decisions best suited to them,” she said.
“It also meant there was more time to focus on living life in the best way possible for them, right until their last days. I decided I wanted to write a book to help others who are facing this for the first time.
"Knowing more about grief can reduce anxiety"
“Knowing more about the process can reduce anxiety a little at a very stressful time and hopefully, avoid some difficulties that might lead to regret and a more complex grieving process.”
Jill, who started writing her self published book, called ‘Moments of Meaning’ in 2015, used the knowledge she gained through her volunteering for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd and, more recently through her work and volunteering for St Luke’s Hospice supporting the West and Mid Cheshire community.
“This is the first book I’ve written so all of it was a new experience! Writing it helped me process my memories, experiences and emotional responses,” she said.
“I still feel regret about a few aspects of what I did and didn’t do but know that with the knowledge I had at the time, I did my best to support my relatives. I still feel grief, especially when my daughter goes through important events and three of her grandparents aren’t there to share these experiences with her."
Jill’s book is available to order through Amazon online as a paperback or eBook. After covering her writing and publishing costs, Jill will donate 30% of the profits to both hospices and the End of Life Partnership.
“The rest of the income I plan to use to continue my work in helping people make moments of meaning as they approach the end of their life,” she added.
“I’ll do this by continuing to volunteer as a befriender, support local groups of people who want to create Compassionate Communities in their local village/town to reduce loneliness and isolation and supporting relatives as they care for their loved ones in the latter stages of their life.”