Millie Mae's story

30 May 2019

"Millie Mae was a sassy, tomboyish, six-year-old who knew her own mind. My mum always said that Millie Mae must have been here before because ‘she knew too much’. Millie Mae was diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2014, which is when we first heard about Demelza through our support worker.

We went to see the hospice in Eltham and were shown the Bereavement Suites, though I never thought we’d need to use them. We had made bookings for Millie Mae to stay at the hospice a few times, but sadly she was always too poorly to travel.

Millie Mae never complained throughout her illness. She was such a brave, headstrong girl. She spent the last six weeks of her life in hospital surrounded by clinical things - machines, drips, nurses and noise. Millie Mae was taken to the suite the same day that she passed away. I didn’t think it would be possible to as she hadn’t been able to use Demelza’s other services – I had no idea that we could still have use of the rooms.

Demelza helped make a hard time that little bit more special, just by allowing us those five days to be able to let go of Millie Mae a little more slowly. Family and friends could come and visit and we were able to have her favourite things around her – Millie Mae’s One Direction memorabilia, her teddies and her wrestlers.

I appreciate that the Bereavement Suite may not be for everybody, but in my experience it made saying goodbye to Millie Mae an easier process than it would have been had she been at a funeral director. There’s no way I could have just left Millie Mae there at the hospital. I was able to get up when I needed to and go in and see her; to take the time I needed with her.

Demelza has always been a massive support, it’s a special place to me. Whenever I go back it’s a bittersweet feeling, but I always feel comforted. I pop in to see the room again if I can, just to take two minutes in there or in the quiet room, to remember the last place Millie Mae was. It’s a shame the staff at Demelza never got to meet her when she was well.

We’ve been to memorial days and the other events staff organise for bereaved families, and it helps us to meet other parents there. Sometimes you feel a bit crazy with some of the thoughts you are having, but you soon realise that you’re not alone as there are others who know exactly what you are going through.

The Bereavement Suite is an amazing thing to have for families – it was a blessing to go there and for family to come and see Millie Mae. There should be more funding for places like this. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here today without having the space and time Demelza gave us."

By Millie Mae's mum, Emma.

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