Palace of Care – A Good Death?

Can a death of a person under the age of 30 ever be good?

I’m not so sure. It just doesn’t seem right. It is against the natural order of life. Children are not supposed to die before their parents. Grandchildren are not supposed to die before their grandparents. With the advent of modern medicine, three little kids are not supposed to grow up without one of their parents. Unfortunately despite all the advances we have made in healthcare, some people will still die young.

We might not be able to achieve a good death, but we can make death much less bad. We can’t take away all the sadness of a situation but we can prevent absolute devastation. We operate with a ‘no surprise’ policy, we don’t want anyone to not be aware of what is happening, especially if it is happening to them. We didn’t want their partner who has limited English to not know what was going on. One of our colleagues helped us to interpret the bad news. We could see by the tears running down his face that the message had been successfully passed on. People need to be gently made aware that their time with their loved one has become short, and extra precious.They may have important things they have not completed. It could be legal matters or relationship matters. Saying goodbye to people who have been important in their lives. Spending time with their friends and family, while they still can. Facing a difficult situation together

She spoke her last words to her mother. Her dying wish was for us to help her husband and children find a better long-term housing option. We would certainly try. We can never achieve perfection in palliative care. If it was perfect our services would not be needed at all. The person would not be dying and could go on living, that would be more like perfect.

They prayed for a miracle and did get one, but it was not the one they were expecting. Immigration services quickly processed the visa allowing her mother to spend the last days with her. They had missed each other so much, the tears ran freely down their cheeks
The little children will likely not remember their mother for years to come. Her memory will be vague but they will know that they were loved by her. They will never be able to learn the things that she was so keen to teach them. She never had the chance and other female figures in their life will have to fill in the gaps.

We all felt sadness. We all felt powerlessness. Did we do a good enough job? Yes, and some. We managed to keep things calm and comfortable. The family were left sad, but they were not destroyed. Life will go on.

Though people in the room were sad, they were calm. They looked after each other in a loving manner.

They stayed in the room for the rest of the day until the funeral director arrived to uplift the body. The family accompanied her to the hearse and said their goodbyes. Smartphones made video calls to allow overseas relatives to be present virtually. One family spread over thousands of miles shed tears for one taken far too young.

Her four-year-old played with a slinky.
Her three-year-old cried and wanted her mummy.
Her two-year-old didn’t know what was going on.

Her husband wiped his eyes dry and then shook my hand. We hugged as he said, “Thank you, Doctor.

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