Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saying Goodbye

Over the past week my beloved Godmother, Eleanor Daniels, has been slipping away. Tomorrow I am going to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge to say goodbye to her. She's dying of cancer. Sadly, she has given up the fight and just wants to let go.

Eleanor has been more than a godmother to me and my two sisters. She was such an integral part of our childhood that we can all say she has played a major part in making us all what we are today. I remember all the wonderful daytrips we went on as children. Off we'd troop in her Morris Minor - I still remember the numberplate 00 2163. Hunstanton, Walton on the Naze, Wicksteed Park, Wells-next-the-sea, Gosfield - the memories come flooding back. She never had her own children and has been like a sister to my mother. A kinder, more giving and caring person you could not hope to meet.

To be honest I am dreading seeing her in this state. I've never had to say 'good-bye' to anyone in this way before. The three of us will go together. I suspect a lot of tears will be shed. If you're religious, say a prayer for Eleanor tonight. If anyone deserves to go to heaven, she does.

UPDATE Mon 10pm: Many thanks for all the wonderful messages in the comments. It has been a very traumatic day. I won't labour the details but Eleanor was very peaceful, recognised us all and we were all able to say our thank yous to her and tell her we loved her. Saying goodbye was awful, but I am so glad I went.


Anonymous said...


You'll be pleased to have gone. It's not so bad, seeing someone pass, and it's all the easier because you'll know that she appreciated your being there.

It's probably too late, since you've already gone, but the sense of hearing is the last to fade and so you should continue to talk to her, for a little while, once it seems that she is beyond reach. She will hear you.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Go with fortitude and with thanks for her life. It is good that her last days will be spent with those who love and care for her.

Sonicdeathmonkey said...

Iain, the same thing happened with my grandmother, and I am truly thankful to have had the chance to say goodbye. Awfully difficult of course, but just being there is sometimes the greatest gift someone can give somebody who is slipping away.

So good luck. It's not going to be easy, but I think that when you come to look back on it, both of you, wherever you are, will be grateful for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

sad to hear your news, but remember we all live to improve the future, I am sure this is the case here.

Best wishes to ALL of you, I hope my children and grand kids will take the same view

Anonymous said...

Iain, if you've been given a chance to say goodbye, take it. I wish I'd had that with my father. One week, he was driving me to university, the next he'd had a massive stroke - and recognised no-one. He died shortly after I'd seen him, but I felt robbed of the chance to thank him - and for him to know at the end how special his contribution had been to my life.

Now my mother has started padding down the long path of senile dementia - and I don't know how long it will be before she doesn't recognise me.

It will be one of the more emotional things you've ever done - but it will be easier overall.

My thoughts are with you.

pxcentric said...

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying suggests you tell her you understand her want to let go.

She needs you to help her on her journey.

I wish you well.

Anonymous said...

It will be hard, of course, but in time you'll be glad you had the chance to say good bye to a loved one, not every one does.

Good luck for this difficult time, Iain.

Archbishop Cranmer said...

His Grace had more than a tear in his eye on reading this, not least because he went through exactly the same just a few months ago. It is heartbreaking to lose those we love, but the real joy and peace (that truly passes understanding) is in knowing that death is not the end.

Mr Dale, His Grace shall indeed pray for dear Eleanor tonight, and he senses she knows the Lord and he has called her. But His Grace shall also pray for you, that certainly you shall know peace at this moment of trauma, but moreso that you might take a step closer to the One who has been calling you for quite some time.

Ps30:5; Mt5:4; 2Cor1:3-4



Newmania said...

Cam be difficult . People are not always the way you would like to remeber them if they are frightened and in pain.

mrcawp said...


I know you aren't a Christian. But share the gospel with her, if it's the last thing you do - an eternal soul, and an eternal destiny for that soul, are on the line. She needs to repent and turn to Christ, if she hasn't, and all will go well with her.

I know this will probably annoy or offend you, but I'd rather do that than have her slip away into hell.



Hercules said...


My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time, I know that in all of us there is the strength that is needed to do such difficult and heart wrenching moment’s throughout our lives.

Take care,


Paul Burgin said...

Will certainly do Iain. I remember the last time I saw my maternal Grandad and saying goodbye to him, knowing it was nearly the end and it was tough, but am glad I had the chance

Prodicus said...

Some of us believe that she's going from love to love, Iain.

Later, you will remember tonight as a gift, one denied to many others. But, hard, so hard, this costly gift, so please know that your friends are praying for you as well as for her. Strength to you, my friend.

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, the attitude of many eastern religions is that one does not die, one "leaves the body", which is akin to discarding a worn-out suit.

Eleanor IS immortal, only the flesh perishes.

Alan Douglas

AloneMan said...

Iain, as someone who lost hos mother earlier this year, my thoughts are with you.

Can't help with the praying bit I'm afraid, but I do remember thinking that if God does exist and refused to accept my mum into the kingdom of heaven just because she didn't believe in him, then he didn't have a grip on his job.

You've got wonderful memories, which is a great thing. Hold on to them.

Let the tears come, and make sure you've got someone to talk to in the weeks ahead.

All the best,

Ted Foan said...

Eleanor has left a special mark on you and all the people that knew her. When her time comes she'll be at peace knowing you were there.

It's a tough time - I have seen both my father and my sister slip away - but you would rather have been there than not.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I give thanks that you have had someone like this in your life.

Many have not.May the end be peaceful and your greif bearable.

Anonymous said...

I read once that the molecules of everyone who ever lived and died are in every part of the universe.

So, as you sit at your keyboard, you are surrounded by your ancestors - and your godmother will soon be among them. She realy will always be with you.

It's the old school physics thing: nothing and no one is never lost, only changed.

Given that, even if you don't believe in God ( which I do) how can we fail to recognise the truth that nothing is lost, nothing dies, life really is eternal.

God bless Eleanor Daniels, a life well lived. Sounds to me as though she's been in heaven all along.

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

Prayed a Hail Mary for you all tonight. Isn't this kind of connection one of the great things about the internet.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes


Anonymous said...

Memories are a wonderful thing. The people we love and care for are the most important thing in the world. Good luck and be strong.

Anonymous said...

Remember to thank and celebrate the people who are special to you before they die - we wrote a letter to our lovely Mum on her 90th birthday (before her party) so she knew just how much she meant to us all.

Sorry for your pain.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes.

It is better to go as the person needs you to do this for them as that way they know for absolutely sure they are remembered.

Take photos if she wishes. Give her photos of you. I can confirm; I've never regretted any chance to say goodbye properly that I have been given, but it still rankles that there were times I had no chance to do that.

Unknown said...

Dear Iain
Sorry to hear this it is not easy.

There is nothinng wrong with sheding a tear,I know this situation I endured it with my Mother this year.
I often think of Van Morrison "Have I told you lately that I love you " listen to words -it covers everything you feel inside.
Drop me an e mail if I give bad advise
Chins up please


Man in a Shed said...


I hope today provides the opportunity to say what you would like to.

But it is often the case that the way we lived our lives is just as significant.

I never got to say what I wanted to my father as he died in his coma. But I take comfort in all my memories of his life.

As your Godmother she has done a great job just staying in contact with you. If its appropriate tell her that many of you somewhat suspect internet friends are thinking and praying for her.

The good news is you don't need to be a good person to get to heaven - just to ask forgiveness and trust in Christ. Maybe that's sometimes harder for good people to do ?

Anonymous said...

Iain, very sad to hear such bad news on your side. May I offer my condolences, and hope that this afternoon can offer you some closure. My thoughts are with both you and your godmother during this difficult time.

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain,

You may not believe me when I say that you are very lucky to be able to pay your respects to this person as she goes from this place to the next.
To die is a universal constant that comes to us all but it isnt as final as most people think! Our souls travel in and out of this narrow plain we call Earth so in effect you will not be saying a final goodbye, you will be saying see you soon!
You are being handed a priceless gift here Iain, many people dont get to say their goodbyes and give their thanks for the way the departing have enriched their time here.
What you do and what you say to her is one of the most important tasks you will be faced with.
May I suggest you read the "Tibetan book of living and dying", it will surprise you in many ways I think?
Dont say 'goodbye', say 'see you soon'!

Unsworth said...


My sympathies.

Dignity in such circumstances is so difficult to muster, but, as has already been said, you - and she - will gain from this.

Better by far to say one's farewells than never to have had the chance to do so.

Rev Paul Martin said...

Iain , both Eleanor and yourself are in my prayers.

These farewells are never easy but you will look back and be grateful for the chance handed to you. I am sure your preseence will also help Eleanor.

My God's peace be with each of you.

Anonymous said...

Iain, both you and your Godmother are in my prayers. Reading this thread has left me in tears as I too found out this weekend that my mother's cancer has returned.
God bless you both.

Allan Andrews said...

Iain, my thoughts are with you.

My Mother passed away four years ago through cancer and I know what it's like to have to say good-bye to someone once full of life.

You will, however, be glad you did.

Anonymous said...

As with Marque Mark, I too did not have a chance to say goodbye to my father. I was 22 and 40 years later I still have lingering sadness.

Even tho' it is hard now to see her Iain, you will be glad afterwards.

I prayed for you all yesterday and always pray for those leaving this life and those who love them. (and even more for those who do not have someone to love them as you love her)

Anonymous said...

Very sad to read this post. My sympathies to you, Iain.

Dusanne said...

In what you write you show that, in one sense at the very least, some people will live on beyond their given days, irrespective of any religious beliefs.

Wishing you and yours well at this difficult time.

Matt Wardman said...

You have my sympathies too, Iain.

I'll just say that the best thing I ever did was when I went to view the body of a relative who died. The body is not the person, but it made saying goodbye real.

Regardless of belief, non-belief etc I think as humans we need to have a full-stop to mark the end of a physical relationship over many years with a loved one.

Remember the good times.


Anonymous said...

Nobody is truly lost to us while they are still loved and remembered, and it sounds to me that Eleanor will be still alive in good memories for a long time to come.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of labour bloggers are thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

On behalf of labour bloggers. My thoughts are with you. Politcis should never get so vindictive as to allow us to forget our humanity to eachother.

Anonymous said...

Very sorry to hear that Iain. My grandmother died a few months ago, but as Alzheimers had, in effect, taken her bit by bit over the previous months and years, we never really got to say good-bye properly. We did not have that final goodbye moment and by the end she was a pale shadow of the vibrant women we all remembered. I have no doubt it will be terribly hard for you but perhaps it is a blessing that you can have a proper goodbye. Sincerest condolences to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Only the human body dies. We are all infinite consciousness and so will inhabit the universe for eternity.

Shame that includes Gordon Brown and Attila the Hun but then the world was created this way just to mess with our minds.

The trick is to not let the bastards win, by believing that when we die we die. It makes us all cowards not worthy of redemption or respect.

Death of the body is a rite of passage, no more spiritually terminal then changing ones jacket.

That is not just religious bullshit to make you feel better, it is the TRUTH.

Atheism is the religion of the foolish not The Fool.

Anonymous said...

It is touching that you have chosen to share your personal grief with those who visit and sometimes contribute to, your blog.

I hope you will gain strength from the messages left by people of all faiths and political persuasions.

When the time is right, you should share with us some of your happiest and funniest memories of your Godmother.

Anonymous said...

It's sad to read something like this - my sympathies to Eleanor, yourself and the family & friends.

One must admire her courage to face into life's final act.

I really hope there is a heaven and that Eleanor be welcomed there when she passes.

As the old Irish blessing goes: "May you be sat in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows you're dead."

Anonymous said...

How sad for you - I hope you are OK. When I was growing up my parents had a Morris with the registration plate 001283. Just thought I would mention that...

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. Please tell her how much you love her and how you appreciate all that she did for you and your sisters.
I feel that you were very lucky to have known her and she was very lucky to have known you.

Anonymous said...

As a scot my sympathy goes to you. Us Scottish people have sympathy for you.

Anonymous said...

As Scottish man I would like to add that politics, and nationality should not overide our humanity. And my sympathy goes to you. Other people on this board have said it better than I can.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...


though their earthly bodies pass away, those that we love live on in our hearts and thoughts, and - most personally - in the people they helped us become. And so as long as we think, speak, or act in respect of them and their memory, they can never die.

God be with you, and Eleanor.


Daily Referendum said...


I'm sorry to hear your news. However, good things come to those who have been good to others. I'm sure there's a space for Eleanor in heaven. I do believe, so I will say a prayer.

Chin up


Benny said...

My thoughts are with you at this difficult time. A common phrase but one I sincerely express.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Her Soul.

grumpyoldbookworm said...

Good luck and sympathy - she sounds a wonderful person and I'm sure, in the end, you'll be very glad you went. I've been in similar circumstances twice, for both parents, and please make sure you drive carefully. If you can't focus on the road get someone else to drive. If you get the chance to read her some of the wonderful comments above it might be comforting for both of you. Big hugs!

Anonymous said...

My advice to the public is that if your grandparents are basically healthy and you want them to be around a few more years.

Do not take them to a state hospital. If you do, do all you can to insure they do not stay there even one night.

My grandmother is 100 next May. She still lives in her own home and only allows family to do things for her, which is very rare indeed.

She attributes her long healthy life to no more then a complete mistrust of state or charity sponsored hospitals. This since her mother worked in one before and during the 1st WW.

Her mother told her they were killing off the old especially, to make way for injured soldiers 2 years before the war had even started.

You think it could not happen now? Then think again.

My heart is with you Iain. There is never a GOOD time or place to say goodbye.

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about your Godmother's illness. I shall pray for her peaceful passing, and for you and your family that you may only remember all the good times. You may not be a believer, but I have always found prayer to be a great source of comfort in difficult times.
God bless you all.


Anonymous said...

My sincerest sympathy. Just focus on celebrating the love and the good times throughout your lives together.

Anonymous said...

its never easy to say good bye to people you love.They are part of you and your journey in life.Just remeber to keep her alive in your heart and your thoughts.
may she find true peace and rest

Anonymous said...


My thoughts are with you at this time.

Words of comfort are difficult but my belief is that when your godmother passes away it is just her body that is no more.

Her spirit/soul lives on and will no doubt make herself known to you in some way. It would be very natural for this to happen as your mutual love bond is strong.

You will still be able to talk to her. Treat her just the same.

This poem may help. Take care Iain.

Death is nothing at all

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other
That we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no false air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we shared together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effect
Without the ghost of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant
It is the same as it ever was, there is absolutely unbroken continuity
What is death but a negotiable accident
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight
I am just waiting for you, for an interval somewhere very near,
Just around the corner
All is well.

God Bless


Gracchi said...

Iain I only came across this this evening. I'm so sorry, I hope your meeting went well and I'm sure you will look back in later years on it as a good thing. I lost my Dad this February and find the moments of those last days are important for me. I hope they will be a consolation of sorts for you. I hope also the memories of a life well lived are a consolation- even if that consolation is only partial.

Anonymous said...


Nearly three years ago I spent a few hours with a beloved aunt who was close to death. Yes it was in many ways hard to say goodbye, but I still treasure the hour or so we had together whilst she was conscious. I know for sure that she loved me and I know for sure that I still love her.

You won't regret - or have regretted this.

Anonymous said...

My dear Iain

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and this wonderful Lady

Kind regards


James Higham said...

Stay strong for her.

Anonymous said...


You have blogged loads today. Is this an avoidance strategy? Why don't you go out for a walk (a decent walk in some properly remote place) and sort through your thoughts rather than attempting to bury them under a mountain of activity?

Anonymous said...

If you will pardon the my forwardness, I have lit a candle for all those who need a light. When it happens the hole will seem deeper than any well until you fill it with the love and respect you share. In my prayers,