Remembering My Mom: A Light Up A Life Experience

Vicky Taylor

My road to Hospice SLO County unknowingly began in late 2009 when my mom, Vicky Taylor, died of cancer just five weeks after I gave birth to my first child. We had hospice support for about a month and had a beautiful experience. I say “we” because the support was not just for my mom, but also for our entire family. After her passing I found that being a new mom left me with little time or energy to process her death or grieve.

Eight years later, I found myself interviewing for a job with Hospice SLO County. It was Light Up A Life season so I felt attending one of the ceremonies would be a smart decision to learn more about the organization. I was hesitant to attend because I wasn’t sure what the experience might trigger in me regarding my mom’s death. I wasn’t sure sitting in a room with strangers would feel comfortable or sacred.

I arrived a little early and added my mom’s name to the remembrance book to have her name read aloud. Then I took a seat in the back of the room and observed. People arrived in pairs, in groups and as individuals. Everyone was quiet, somber and respectful of the ambiance that had been thoughtfully created.

When the ceremony began, I found myself feeling inspired by the poems, songs and speakers sharing from their hearts. I saw that some people were comforting one another, some were quietly crying and some were just taking it all in. By the time they started reading names aloud I felt connected through experience and grief with everyone in attendance although I knew no one.

As they read the names aloud with such reverence, I found myself holding my breath, waiting for them to say my mom’s name. When I finally heard her name, my entire body exhaled and I felt so much peace. As the ceremony ended, I quietly slipped away feeling total amazement that such a simple ceremony could hold so much beauty and connection to my mom and to those who shared in the evening experience with me.  

After that night, I knew for certain that I had found my professional home.

Light Up A Life in 2017 was a meaningful and precious experience for me. It brought me great comfort. I hope you will consider joining us this year. 

By Shannon McOuat, Executive Director
Hospice SLO County