Nicky Musgrave

Our daughter, Nicky, died a month before her 19th birthday in February 2006. She died suddenly and unexpectedly whilst watching an episode of "Friends" with one of her housemates in the house that she shared with four students.

Despite the best efforts of everybody – the housemates, paramedics and doctor – Nicky was pronounced dead shortly after I arrived at the house to be with her.

The cause of death was dilated cardiomyopathy. She was asymptomatic and when my husband and I saw her earlier on the day she died, she was full of zest for life, talking non-stop about her job, friends, university and plans for the following academic year after she finished her Art Foundation course.

With hindsight, the only hint of something amiss was that she mentioned she felt tired and looked pale, but like many students she burned the candle at both ends so there was nothing alarming about that.

Three and a half years on, we are all still missing her. My husband, our other two daughters and I have all had different experiences of the grief that losing such a precious person brings.

What has helped us along this journey of grief is the love and support of family, friends and sometimes the kindness of strangers.

Nicky painted some beautiful pictures. This one (left) is called "Blank Canvas". It is one of a series of four paintings that she produced for her Art A-level, for which she got a grade A. We called it Blank Canvas because she was longing to have a tattoo and she described her body as a blank canvas waiting for the tattoos to be drawn upon it.

Nicky never got a tattoo, so on what would have been her 21st birthday, I had one on my foot in her memory. It is a shooting star design to represent my beautiful girl who was flying so high before she left this world so tragically.

Although it has undeniably been hard for the family to cope without Nicky, I know that she would not want us to be unhappy. So I think that we are making the most of our lives, and whilst there are times we are sad, I would like to think that we are not unhappy.

As a mother, I am aware that I am so blessed to have two other beautiful daughters and I try to concentrate on what I still have instead of dwelling on what I no longer have.

I find these words comfort me when I am feeling down:

""When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.""

(Kahil Gibran 1923)

Jackie Musgrave