Light Up a Life has offered great solace and joy to so many people since it began in 1992. Last year, some 26,000 people were lovingly remembered through lights sponsored in their name. In addition, a number of companies supported the campaign through generous donations that in turn helped our patients and families.

Now celebrating its 28th year, it is really heart-warming to consider the many thousands of people – patients, relatives, friends, who have been directly affected and benefited from the efforts and generosity of spirit of all those who have been involved throughout the years.

This year has been so incredibly difficult for all of us. As a country, we have had to stay apart in order to come together to keep each other safe, and we’ve been reminded just how important connections with our loved ones are.

Never is that more true than when those loved ones are no longer with us.

Shining a light has become a symbol this year of remembering those we have lost, and those we are still protecting. It reminds us that it’s often the little things – the meaningful moments, the shared laughter, the time spent with each other that makes the connection so powerful.

As well as an opportunity to pay tribute to those who meant so much to us, Light Up a Life is the most important annual fundraiser for Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services. The restrictions from COVID-19 have impacted our fundraising activities, so this year we need your support more than ever.

Last year, Light Up a Life raised almost €450,000 for urgent patient services and facilities improvements. Your generous donations directly support our frontline services such as our nurses, physiotherapists and social workers – compassionate staff who provide comfort and dignity to patients and their families as they live out their final days, helping families make the most of their precious time together.

Sponsoring a light for €6 has a double benefit to your kind and generous act.

In honour of the person you have sponsored a light for, your gift will be directly supporting the loving care of patients in both our Harold’s Cross, Blackrock and Wicklow hospices. If you’re missing someone this Christmas, remember them – in the most magical and moving way. Light up their life. And once you have remembered your own loved ones, take some time to browse through the tributes, photos and stories shared by others.

And, if you work in a company, please consider a Christmas donation to the Hospice by becoming a leading light. Your company’s support will make a real difference and will be recognised and profiled in a number of ways.

Christmas has always been a time to remember loved ones and those close to you. So please, get involved this year and Light the Life of someone special to you.

Thank you.

There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle.”

– St Francis of Assisi

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A Light of Love: Rachel’s Story

“Why didn’t I come here sooner?” my mum, Jean asked. We were all shocked at how fast she declined. She resisted going to the Hospice because she didn’t want to give up. But as soon as she arrived at Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services, she knew it’s where she needed to be so that we could all just focus on being together.

None of us could have imagined when that photo was taken that mum had so little time with us. I’d joined her and dad on a holiday to Budapest in January, bringing my two-year-old Charlie with me. Mum loved Charlie. She adored all of her six grandchildren, and seeing her with them reminded me how much she had loved us as kids. She was such a warm, generous and funny person, constantly sending little presents for Charlie, including her infamous Aran jumpers. Charlie even has an Aran jumpsuit she knitted!

Mum never looked or acted her age, despite being 73, and was always making me laugh. She was healthy and took care of herself, loving her walk every day at St Enda’s Park with her girlfriends, and little dog Daisy.

So when she took ill just after that photo was taken, we were shocked. The only sign had been a bit of persistent heartburn. Then, in Budapest, she got really short of breath. It got so bad we took her to the hospital and she ended up in ICU. We were obviously worried, but still had no idea of what was to come.
The doctors told us that scans had shown there might be cancer. We were upset but it wasn’t until she had further tests in Dublin that we found out the devastating truth. My mum had advanced lung cancer.

Just nine weeks after her diagnosis, we lost her.

I had worked in a care home years ago and so in March I went to stay with her to care for her as best I could. However, keeping her oxygen levels comfortable became very stressful and we had oxygen tanks all over the house. When I realised she was declining, I told my brother who lives in Seattle and my sister who lives in the UK it was time to come home.

Mum was reluctant to go into the Hospice because she thought that was accepting she would be leaving us. As soon as she arrived however, she wished she’d come earlier. Her room was beautiful, with doors that opened up into a courtyard bursting with flowers and colours which my mum loved.

Although all of the necessary medical equipment was there to manage her oxygen and pain relief, there was no sense of a cold and sterile hospital environment. It actually felt luxurious. Suddenly all the stress of her medical needs were taken away and we got to be together as a family, loving and supporting her. Even in the midst of the pandemic lockdown, the team did their best to support us during these very challenging times.

We were even able to bring her little dog Daisy in to see her which was such a gift.

Because I’d worked in a care home, I knew that despite wanting to spend time with the patients, there was never enough time. Yet in Our Lady’s, the staff were so calm and would sit with us for as long as we needed. They stayed with mum, held her hand and no one seemed rushed. I am so grateful for that experience for her.

The funeral was devastating because the Covid-19 restrictions meant that only ten people could attend. It wasn’t even possible to have a gathering afterwards.

A month later, I did a big fundraiser to say thanks to the Hospice for giving our mum such a positive end-of-life experience. I ran a half-marathon by running round the back garden while Dad and Daisy watched on. We raised a few thousand euro as I know how badly affected all the normal fundraising efforts have been due to the pandemic.

This has been such a hard year for everyone and losing mum was just the bleakest thing that could have happened. She was so creative and thoughtful, and a
hugely positive person.

So I want to carry on her spirit – her light – by doing whatever I can to support the work of the Hospice to make the most difficult time of people’s lives a little easier like they did for us.

In time, when the restrictions allow, we will all meet as a family to remember her together.

In the meantime, I want to do everything I can to celebrate her life. That’s why I want to share my story and encourage you to remember the ones
you have loved by supporting Light Up a Life this year. In a year that feels so dark at times, those of us who have lost loved ones, know that the light of love can always shine through.