Darcy's Story

When six-year-old Darcy died suddenly in January 2019, Darcy’s family found solace in the darkest of times at Martin House, where they spent four days coming to terms with her loss.

Darcy was diagnosed just before she was one with VACTERAL association. Although Darcy’s main health concern was her heart, her condition wasn’t life-shortened. She could, however, be very poorly.

“She was just amazing. She was so full of life and made the most out of every experience”, said Emily, Darcy’s mum.

In January 2019, Emily was due to give birth to her second child, Bea.

“Darcy was so excited to be a big sister. She guessed that I was pregnant before I told her. Every day, she’d eagerly ask me if Bea was arriving that day!”

But just five days after baby Bea was born and the family had returned home from the hospital, Darcy fainted.

Doctors performed a heart scan which showed that Darcy’s heart was relaxed. The family planned to stay overnight, to then be transferred to a Leeds hospital the next day, but that same evening, Darcy blacked out again and her heart stopped beating.

The doctors tried CPR on Darcy for 45 minutes, but she couldn’t be resuscitated. Darcy died on 24th January 2019.

“Shortly after Darcy died, we were approached by the bereavement support team at the hospital and they said: ‘There’s a place called Martin House and you can go there with Darcy.’

“I didn’t want to prolong the agony of losing her, but at the same time, I felt we might regret having the opportunity to spend more time with Darcy and the chance to get our heads around everything.

“As we were walking through the corridor, there was a lady who introduced us to other members of staff by saying: “This is Darcy’s mum and dad”. I’d had the distressing thought that because Darcy was gone, I was done being her mum now, but the fact that they referred to Darcy by her name was really special.”

Darcy used a cooled bedroom at Martin House and Emily and her partner, Kristian, were told about what Martin House could offer them and how the days ahead could look.

“We made beautiful artwork that symbolised our whole family. One of our most treasured possessions is a canvas with Darcy’s footprint used as a tree trunk, and our handprints making up the branches. We also made Christmas baubles using both Darcy and Bea’s fingertips.

“Everyone was so kind and allowed you space to talk about Darcy as a person, not about what had happened. It’s almost like we could forget it all for a moment. It was completely our experience. It sounds strange, but we were sat at the art table laughing as we shared memories of Darcy with the team.

“Each day we’d go downstairs and say good morning to Darcy and spend time just sitting with her, playing her favourite music, while having the space to do the practical things, including arranging her funeral.

“At Martin House, we saw pure joy and happiness – it was like a different world. We couldn’t help but feel comforted by the joy we were seeing. Darcy would have loved it here.

“The bereavement team contacted us shortly after Darcy’s funeral just to let us know they were there as and when we needed them. We made an appointment for later in the year, and just to have that in the calendar was so important for us, knowing we would be returning to Martin House for the help we so desperately needed.

“When people describe Martin House as a home away from home, it’s just that, and when Darcy died, it felt more homely than our own home. My perception of a hospice was that it wasn’t a very nice place and I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect what we came to experience. As soon as we arrived, I looked around the entrance and my worst fears disappeared. I just felt warmth.”