Bella was medically very complex as a baby. She survived meningitis, had two holes in her heart and was then diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder which meant she couldn’t walk or communicate verbally. However, her conditions didn’t stop her from enjoying every day she had a smile that lit up the room, a wicked laugh and a very cheeky personality.
The family were supported by Little Havens for 15 years and in August 2021 Bella, and her family, spent nine days at the hospice to be cared for at the end of her life.
Christine, Bella’s mum, said, “We’ve always thought of Little Havens as our safe place; somewhere to go for respite, a shoulder to cry on and someone who understood. Little Havens has been the constant in our lives over the years.”
“It sounds silly, but we didn’t think it could get any better, we thought that was the hospice at its best until we came to Little Havens for the end of Bella’s life.”
Bella went into hospital with a urine infection but quickly deteriorated and was placed onto end-of-life care in Intensive Care at Great Ormond Street. The family did not want Bella to die in hospital, in a clinical environment where her family and friends couldn’t come to say goodbye, so they were transferred to Little Havens.
“When we arrived at Little Havens we started crying, partly in relief. Suddenly all the pressure came off.”
During Bella’s finals days, the hospice helped to manage her symptoms, so she was as pain-free as possible. Mum continues, “In her final days, they made sure that every single day counted. Her days consisted of pampering sessions with her sister, evenings in the grounds watching the sunset together and lots of sensory stories and music therapies. In the darkest of days, they made sure we all had support and somehow helped us all smile, laugh and enjoy our final time.”
“Looking back at photos from Bella’s last few days, you’d expect them all to be filled with sadness. But they are not, every photo is a new memory and a new joy. Even though Bella was just days away from dying, the Care Team got her into the bath with her sister and they could have massages together. There are memories wrapped up in everything we did at the hospice.
“When Bella died, they created two canvases for us using her footprints which are now some of our most treasured possessions. To our family, this means everything, when your child dies you are so scared you are going to forget the little details.
“The hospice never saw her as a dying child, they saw her for Bella and helped make memories in the time we had left.”
“The care at Little Havens and the way Bella died took away my fear of death because it was peaceful, everything she would have wanted. Even down to the smallest thing like that she was lying in the same position we’d often cuddle in shows Bella was always the centre of everything Little Havens did.”
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Published in 2022
Christine, Bella's Mum
The hospice is so full of love even during your darkest time, and because of that, her last moments weren’t filled with trauma or pain.