Rich is our Digital Officer here at Birmingham St Mary’s and to support our Forget Me Not campaign, he’d like to share a personal story of what happened when his mum died…

I've never really spoken about this with anyone, so let's keep this between me and you. In April 2014, my mum had a brain aneurysm and died, in the space of 24 hours I went from having a normal, healthy mum to not. This marked the beginning of the darkest time in my life.

I've never felt so lost.. so empty, and the only thing that kept me together was knowing that I had to for my dad. So I immediately moved back home, the last place in the world I wanted to be. Faced with daily reminders of what I'd lost, I struggled to come to terms with what was happening.

In the week that followed, I took care of the practical stuff with my uncle's help. I went to the hospital to pick up my mum's death certificate and registered her death at the office in town. We then spoke with the local cemetery to have her buried near my grandad and set about arranging her funeral. This all helped to distract me a little and I can never thank my uncle enough for helping me with all of this.

But the night-time was very different from the day, it’s when silence surrounds you that your thoughts quickly follow. I remember lying in bed at night trying to process it all.

Memories of times we spent together, those final hours spent at the hospital, what I’d give to have her back in my life, and all of the things my mum would never see. It’s the latter that made my heart ache. People talk about a sinking feeling but at times I felt tied to the bottom of the sea when thinking about events my mum would miss.

The annual Christmas dinner at my Gran’s, my wedding day, meeting my children, playing with them, the list is endless and more painful than words could describe. But for any of you who have experienced a similar loss, you’ll have your own lost moments in time.

For a long time after my mum died, I just wasn’t happy. Smiles were rare and laughter even rarer. I got on with life the best I could, going back to work, spending time with my dad and I did as much as I could to keep his spirits up, as well as my own. This included a TV package that had it all; sports, movies and everything in between.

I started reading World War Z, which was a huge help. Transporting my mind to a reality where zombies had taken over the world gave me brief moments of escape where I could embrace fascinating characters coping with their own difficult situations.

A new job helped to keep my mind occupied too but I still felt as though a chunk of my heart was missing and in its place, just emptiness. It’s a strange feeling, especially when you know it’s all in your head and your heart is actually whole.

Over time I came to accept that this was the way my life would be, that my mum was no longer a physical part of it. The pain never really goes away, I’ve just come to a point where I think less about it. Less about what my future is missing and more of what it can hold.

It’s the appreciation of lost moments that drives me forward. Life is shorter and briefer than any of us dare to think, and we need to make the most of it.

Although my mum is now gone, she lives on through me, I’m what she’s left behind and I’ll continue to do all I can to make her proud.

Losing the person I loved most in the world hurt more than I could have ever expected but at the same time I discovered a strength I never knew I had.

Even in her death, my mum gave me one final gift.

So this Spring, I’m dedicating a Forget Me Not flower to my mum to celebrate her life and all the love she gave. I can’t wait to see the beautiful display at Brindleyplace in the final week of April and join many others in supporting Birmingham St Mary’s.

If you’d like to share a memory or a story, please email [email protected].

To read more stories, visit www.birminghamhospice.org.uk/forget-me-not-stories.