How these few words came about

Louise’s story

I’d been making documentaries for television for 20 years when Judy, a palliative-care nursing consultant, approached me with a request to work with her friend Louise (also a palliative-care nursing consultant), who was dying from cancer. Louise wanted to record a message for each of her two grown children – and a message to be played at her funeral.

I drove to Louise’s place. She was bedridden. We spent a while setting up the video and getting to know one another. Louise had drafted letters for her children that she would read. She asked that her image not be used, as she would like to be remembered as her healthy self.

We began to record her words to her son, recalling his childhood, the triumphs and trials of his teenage years, and her deep pride in him. When Louise experienced waves of sadness we paused the recording and I promised to edit out any hint of tears, as she wanted to create messages of hope and encouragement.

I felt so privileged to be with Louise at this moment in time. We recorded the beautiful letter to her daughter, and then her funeral message.

I edited the recordings, taking them back to Louise to listen to. She added new thoughts and we re-recorded a couple of paragraphs. I made the final changes and delivered the CDs and transcripts to Louise.

A few weeks later, after spending Christmas with her family, Louise passed away.

The message she’d recorded for her funeral was played. It was full of charm and humour. People stopped crying and started smiling.

A year after Louise’s passing I spoke to her daughter – she and her brother had listened to their recordings. They feel incredibly lucky to have them, to be able to listen to words spoken just for them. “It’s just great to hear her voice,” she said, “It’s almost like having a conversation.”

At the time Louise, and subsequently Judy, spoke to me of the great need for a service that records audio and video messages for loved ones left behind, and for soulful biographies that uncover and preserve the layers of a meaningful life.

My experience with Louise continues to inspire me and has sent me on this extraordinary journey to create These Few Words.