Share Your Story
Hearing about others' experiences can be helpful when dealing with death and bereavement. Do you have a personal experience that you'd feel comfortable sharing with the campaign? If so, let us know...
This weekend is exactly one year since my dad was first taken ill. He was rushed into hospital after he lost all use of his legs – we later learnt that this was a consequence of advanced prostate cancer.
My dad never told me directly that he had cancer or was dying; instead we found ways to talk around this subject and come to a shared understanding. It felt too difficult to contact unfamiliar hospital staff treating my dad at the time of his diagnosis which I heard from my mum. I kept up a positive front, knowing the truth but not letting on. I used the internet and cancer charity helplines to gather what information I could.
Involvement of the local hospice changed this situation as I could talk, with my dad’s blessing, to palliative care specialists attuned to cancer and end of life care. It is heartrending watching a loved one suffer with the debilitating effects of cancer but also a privilege to be with them. I sat with my dad in his final hours feeling surprisingly calm. My vigil made the ending real and was the final gift I could offer him.
Bereavement has felt painful. I am still getting used to my dad not being physically here seven months on. I have lost a sense of purpose that came naturally when I was helping my dad. Ups and downs that became the norm during his health crisis seem to dictate my daily life and moods. Most acquaintances forget I am grieving. Life goes on and I wonder why I am left feeling alone. Questions about my wellbeing stopped a few weeks after my dad’s funeral, I feel excluded when other people talk readily about family and social lives.
Looking back I learnt it helps to take it day by day where a relative has a serious illness and allow them to talk about whatever matters in that moment. You cannot assume someone wants to talk about death, but be sensitive to cues and prepared to listen.
The Dying Matters Coalition is led by the National Council for Palliative Care,
the umbrella charity for end of life care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Freephone 08000 21 44 66