She was really honest about it. She didn't try and cover anything up.
Ellie's mum was a single mum to four children. She had been unwell for a long time, but received a terminal cancer diagnosis at the age of 64 when Ellie was only 17 years old.
In the end, there was only three weeks between the terminal diagnosis and her death. But she was prepared.
I think there's something really special about recognising that death isn't something that happens at a distance from life.
Despite it being a really difficult experience for the family, Ellie says that she had felt really involved throughout the whole process. Her mum spoke to Ellie and her siblings about what items they would like and what should be taken to a charity shop, and left handwritten notes detailing what she coffin she would like, and leaving requests and details for her funeral, including a colourful send-off with a caravan hearse.
"Don't spend money on a coffin. Because they're really expensive and it's only it's only gonna get burned. You know, just a cardboard box with an orange throw will be fine."
These detailed instructions helped Ellie feel involved and more prepared for her mother's death, and remembering her was easy. “In terms of helping us have a conversation about how to honour her memory, we felt really involved,” said Ellie.
"There was even a handwritten recipe book left with family recipes." Ellie now says that this was the best introduction to end of life planning she could have had.
“I think there's something really special about recognising that death isn't something that happens at a distance from life," says Ellie. "It's very much a part of it.”
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Real stories like Ellie's help us to break down barriers around dying and death. We’re sharing our experiences so that anyone experiencing death, dying and bereavement feels less alone. Will you share yours?