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...
My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer with secondaries in liver and bones in June 2011. He died 1 December 2011. We hardly had time to accept the diagnosis before our lives changed on an almost daily basis. I became his full-time carer and he began to slip away very quickly.
We were very close and were able to speak about most things but one of the hardest things to discuss was his death and my life afterwards. He did not want to die in hospital and I was determined that he would die where he wanted. Watching the person I love and shared 15 years of my life with die was heartbreaking, but we discussed his funeral and where he wanted to rest. We both love a particular beach and so we put in our wills that I will keep him with me until I die then we will meet on our beach, have a glass of champagne then be together there always. The executors of my will are clear about these requests.
The day we had to call in the doctors because he was in pain and they decided to put in a syringe driver for managing his pain, we knew it was likely to be only 12-48 hours that he would be with us. I had promised him that I would be with him every step of the way and I was: visits to hospital, palliative treatment to deal with pain, visits to A&E and at his death.
Being with him as he struggled and fought for breath was the most painful to watch. One of the last things he said to me was, " Let me go darling". He said it three times. So I talked to him and reassured him that I would always love him and that if it was time for him to begin the next part of his journey then he should go taking all of our love with him.
To be with him when he took his last breath was so painful but it was good to know that we had managed to talk about his death and life and that we could give him his last wish.
We had also discussed a Do Not Resuscitate form, which he said he wanted in place. However, he later changed his mind as he said he wanted to be with me as long as possible.
It helped to know that we had discussed his wishes regarding his funeral when we came to organising it, yet there was room for us to add our own input to celebrate his life and honour his death.
Because his cancer developed so quickly we tried not to put off discussing painful issues. We knew from the outset that there was no treatment and that he only had months to live. His adult children could not cope with this and put their heads in the sand but we were lucky enough to be able to talk about most things and since his death it has been helpful to me to know that I was able to carry out his last wishes, which would have been difficult if they had not already been spoken about as his ability to communicate at the end was negligible due to medication.
I went to see him in the Chapel of Rest, which was very hard but helped to reinforce that he would not be coming home again - that doesn't stop me expecting him to walk through the door some days.
It is a help to me on difficult days to know that we had spoken about how he wanted the end of his life to be and that I was able to make sure it happened for him. One of the most loving things I could do for him, especially as I felt so helpless when he was wasting away in front of my eyes.
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