Shelagh Marshall OBE, is Chair of Age Action Alliance’s Loneliness & Isolation working group. As part of our International Women’s Day blog series, highlighting female experiences of loneliness, she shares her story.
“I’d never experienced loneliness before I lost my daughter to a brain tumour. She was at work one day, and the next day she wasn’t.
She was diagnosed on Christmas Eve and given six months to live without treatment. She passed away on 9 March 2018.
“I’d never experienced loneliness before I lost my daughter.”
It happened in the wrong order. I live on my own, and she’d wanted me to move nearer to her, for when I needed help in later life. She said she wanted to be there for my aches and pains, to help with my finances.
I’ve always been lucky with my health, but I recently developed croup. It’s the first time I’ve been ill since she passed. It feels as if I ought to wear a badge, so people know what I’m going through.
“I dreaded my first Mother’s Day without my daughter. She always sent me a card and a small gift.”
I try to come down to London as much as can to see my three grandchildren – her children. I can drive, but I would love to be nearer to them.
I remember when she knew she didn’t have long left, she told me she was leaving me with ‘three wonderful grandchildren who think the world of you.’
I dreaded my first Mother’s Day without my daughter. She always sent me a card and a small gift. It was the most wonderful feeling when I received flowers and a card from my Grandchildren on that first Mother’s Day. I felt truly blessed.
“It feels as if I ought to wear a badge, so people know what I’m going through.”
I’m fighting [the loneliness] in my way. Keeping busy. Doing things for other people. I was a county councillor for 28 years and worked in the social services and the health authority for 12 years. And I’m fortunate to be able to use that knowledge.
One of the best pieces of advice someone ever gave me was to stay active. I’m going to spend the rest of my life staying as active as I can, and doing things for other people, for as long as I can.”
This is part of a blog series for International Women’s Day 2020.