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Kinga Dabrowska from Ridgeway Rise shares her story of the Dove Box Competition Winners
I've seen so many of them with bloodshot eyes. Hope, sadness, difficult relief or sometimes even guilt written all over their dropped faces.
Some of them pre-warned by a professional, "I wouldn't hope for mum to see next Christmas". It downs on them suddenly that they will no longer be daughters or husbands, with a dearest parent or spouse leaving for their final rest. They look at you begging to give them hope, perhaps prepared but never ready. "Does she even hear me?" They kneel by beds, say words they never had the courage to say, racing with time to whisper promises, to be forgiven, to remember, to reassure.
They don't want to watch pain but are unwilling to let go at the same time. Their anger towards the cruelty of the disease or inevitability of time fights with reason. I witnessed lots of last moments between care home residents and their loved ones. I saw hopeless pleas and experienced their emotions.
It's weird how, in moments of such finality, you suddenly feel so close to strangers. How much you wish you knew how to help, how to add importance to the moments that can't be replayed. They often expect you to advise them, to use your experience and guide them. Eventually it's always love, devotion and passed, shared memories that make them stay brave and live through those last goodbyes.
We invented 'dove boxes' to help those families find a meaning in those last precious moments. Dove boxes offer lip balms, facial wipes, hand cream and stationery for those last, unspoken words, which lost the race with the time. We prepared packs with forget-me-not seeds, religious literature and tissues. Students from local schools participated in the competition creating booklets with uplifting stories and poems. Their words, read by families and friends, will carry weakening life smoothly over to the other side.