Derian House 25th anniversary: Families remember loved ones through annual Forget Me Not service
One of Derian House's top priorities is to ensure families can return to pay tribute to their loved one.
The most common, and personal way, is through the a chapel, which reflects the entire ethos of the hospice. The ever increasing photographs of children line the walls and families can write in the Memory Books which contains poems, photographs and personal mementos. Families also pin up birthday, anniversary cards and balloons to remember significant moments. Funerals may also be conducted within the chapel. For many, the chapel is a poignant reminder that Derian House is the last point of contact with their child.
Derian House also hosts a Forget Me Not service every year, where families are invited personally to attend a small service in celebration of their child or sibling’s life.
Elizabeth Grant, or Ribbleton, regularly returns to the Chorley hospice to remember her sister Melanie through the Forget Me Not service and the chapel which is always open.
The 22-year-old has been a fund-raising ambassador for a few years through her previous role of Miss Preston and Miss England.
Her sister, Melanie was cared for at the hospice when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She died in 2001, aged 12.
Elizabeth Grant says: “Derian House sends out an invitation for the Forget Me Not service which has a personalised message and note saying it is here to celebrate and remember the lives of the people we have lost.
“It has a theme every year, for example little love hearts or butterflies, and we can write personal messages. When we turn up, we can put the messages on the tree.
“The day is not sad. The service is very heartwarming and touching. A candle is lit and passed around halfway through the ceremony. A lot of time must be spent picking out songs and poems as they are always so lovely and mean so much to us.
“It is a time to reflect. It is a healthy environment where we can all celebrate the lives of our loved ones and remember them.
“Even though we don’t speak about our experiences, we know what everyone going through. Whether someone has lost their child seven months ago or 15 years ago, we are all the same. We know we are not alone.
“As a family, we like to bring Melanie to everything we do, whether it be talking about her at the dinner table or going to her grave. So we go to the Forget Me Not service as it is nice to remember the last part of her life. It is nice to see the members of staff who cared for her. I was only six when Melanie passed away so it was a few years later did I realise what was going on.
“My mum, Catherine, and I go every year. My older brother, Christopher, 34, has only just started coming. My dad and brother prefer to celebrate Melanie in their own way. At first it was very overwhelming for mum but she found comfort from other people. We are happy when we go. We all feel the love being shared around the room. It is such a lovely service.”
As a fund-raising ambassador, Elizabeth visits Derian House on numerous occasions each year, making sure she stops by at the chapel.
She adds: “I always make sure I go to the chapel. As you turn to leave the chapel, Melanie’s photo is on the left. It is also nice to see the children who were there with Melanie. All these children have individual stories and it is important to remember them all.”
Elizabeth adds she finds comfort in visiting Derian House, where her sister spent her last days. She says: “All the members of staff are amazing - from the workers you see to those in the back office. They all have a strong role and make all families feel special.”