“For me it’s not about remembering someone, as Mickie is always in my thoughts,” says Val Gratton, 69, of our annual Light up a Life events.
“It gives you the chance to press the pause button, when you are so busy before Christmas with shopping and buying presents. We all have our traditions at Christmas and when you have lost someone you have to make new traditions, as there’s a big hole where that person used to be. Our girls would jump into our bed on Christmas morning even when they were married, and after Mickie died they didn’t know whether to or not as it felt so strange him not being there.”
The event Val attends in Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens features a string quartet, with readings and carols. She has attended since 2015, when she lost Mickie to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD).
The pair had been married for more than 40 years and had three daughters together. Weldmar became involved with them in 2014, when Mickie was starting to deteriorate and Val says the staff and volunteers were ‘amazing’ in caring for them both.
They had a volunteer coming in to offer therapy to help him relax, and community nurses would visit. He stayed at Joseph Weld Hospice twice, and ‘felt happy and safe’ despite being prone to terrible panic attacks.
Val said: “The hospice moved us into a larger room, and our daughters came with the babies. The room gave us the chance to be normal, to chat about ordinary things surrounded by baby paraphernalia and just be a family. They were so considerate.”
Now Val will be attending her third Light Up A Life event, which is one of six held around the area.
She said: “Light Up A Life gives you a chance to reflect on that person who’s not going to be there. You share similar emotions to everyone there and that is reassuring and comforting.”