Finding joy in memories – Sarah reflects on celebrating her Dad’s life at Sunflower Memories

Sarah shares why celebrating the life of her Dad, Anthony, at Sunflower Memories, is so important to her and her family.

My Dad was a total one-off. He had the most amazing sense of humour, loved to be the centre of attention, and was ridiculous, in the best way! With my brother and two sisters, we were all so close, but he and I in particular were such kindred spirits.

He loved jazz and rock and roll music, and when the time came, he decided on the music for his own funeral. In true Dad style, he chose Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls of Fire to be played on the day! As I was putting his eulogy together and talking to all of the people in his life, there was one commonality between all of their memories: laughter.

I find such comfort in coming back to the hospice to remember him, and these events are such a wonderful opportunity and excuse to do so.

Sarah

Dad had his blood cancer diagnosis in 2014, and beat the odds of his prognosis. It wasn’t until he suffered a stroke in March of 2022 that he started to deteriorate. The cruellest part was that the stroke took his voice, and for a man with such a vivacious character, it was so upsetting.

Sarah’s dad Anthony

While Dad only spent 36 hours in the hospice, Pilgrims Wellbeing services were offered to him beforehand, although he was hesitant to utilise them. In the end, he knew that the Canterbury hospice was the place he wanted to be. Ultimately, it was his life, his death, and his choice, right to the very end.

As soon as we arrived at the hospice, we were greeted by a doctor and nurses, who were amazing. They immediately sprang into action and got his pain and anxieties under control. They created such an honest, open, and safe environment in which Dad and all of the family were so supported. We were so scared and unsure of what to expect, but the Pilgrims nurses stayed by our side throughout, providing such a steady and reassuring presence.

Two years later, and I still find it hard to believe that he isn’t here with us. Along with my siblings, I remember my dad at both Trees of Love and Sunflower Memories. I find such comfort in coming back to the hospice to remember him, and these events are such a wonderful opportunity and excuse to do so. I want to keep celebrating him and see his name written somewhere. Knowing Dad, he would want to be flashed everywhere!

We invite you to share your memories at Sunflower Memories 2024. Join us this July; click here to dedicate a sunflower in a loved one’s memory, and celebrate their life in the hospice gardens at our Sunflower Days.

Saturday, 20 July, 1pm–4pm in Pilgrims Hospices gardens in Canterbury, Thanet, and Ashford.


Each year, Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured.  The charity supports patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress.