Palace of Care – Requested Letter

Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash

This was a first for me in my 23 year medical career. My patient’s family requested we write a letter to be read out at the funeral.

To our dear patient and their lovely family,

Thank you for allowing us the privilege of looking after you.

We know to start with you were scared of hospice and were not keen to be under our care.

You changed your mind once you met us. Our whole team enjoyed getting to know you and your caring family.

We are glad we could help you feel more comfortable, as we could see you had suffered a lot, as had your family who witnessed your suffering.

Your family had looked after you so well at home and that’s why you were able to make it to your 80th birthday. It was a testament to the loving care they provided to you.

Thank you for allowing us to look after you in your final days.

You were so unwell but we were so glad to share smiles and laughter with you and your family during your time in our inpatient unit.

Your friends and family will miss talking with you and hearing you sing, but everyone is glad you do not have to suffer any longer.

It was our pleasure to look after you and your family. That’s why hospice is here, to look after people just like you and me in the community.

We wish you and your family a fond farewell.

Kind regards,

Dr James Jap on behalf of the Hospice Team

Palace of Care – Four Weddings and a Funeral

Photo by The Good Funeral Guide on Unsplash

He was far from home, many kilometres away from his tribal lands. He had come to the big city for cancer treatments and to be closer to the few family members who lived close to our catchment area. The treatments had not worked despite everyone’s best efforts. His condition deteriorated at an increasing pace. The Oncologists thought he was dying, that he only had days left to live and they arranged for him to be transferred to the hospice for symptom control and likely end-of-life care.

We managed to calm down his physical pain and nausea with urgency. When he was more comfortable his appetite improved. Everything was going well, we started making arrangements for where he would go next. Along with his family, he had chosen a hospital-level care facility that would be easy for his out-of-town family to visit.

On the day of his planned transfer, without warning, he collapsed and died. Death inside a hospice is not an unusual event. For Maori folk, after death, the usual preference is for the body to be embalmed and then for it to lie in state at a family home for a few days. Then it will make its final journey to the mana whenua/tribal homeland for burial.

Our patient and his family were all from out of town. They did not have a place of their own they could use to host a small funeral. They asked if it would be okay for his embalmed body to return to hospice for them to hold a tangihana/funeral.

We discussed it as a team and said “Sure, let us know if we can help.”

His family were grateful to be able to farewell him together in their traditional way.

In all my years of working in hospice, there have been more than four weddings on-site, but this was the first funeral.

Guest Post – Naomi’s Notes – Grelly

Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

She called him Grelly when she was young because she couldn’t say Grandad.

He used to pick her up every day from Kindy.  Always the same routine when she got to her Mama’s house. She would sit next to Grelly and he would let her dunk her biscuits into his cup of tea.  He didn’t mind if her biscuit fell in.

She entertained them by reciting the poems and songs she had learned.  She loved it when they joined in and sang with her.  Grelly would let her be the boss of the TV remote and watch her programmes with her.   She didn’t mind that he didn’t know the words to Spongebob Squarepants because he made up for it by dancing with her when Bananas in Pyjamas came on.   When she was sick he would phone her and tell her he and Mama were missing her. 

When he became sick, she would rush in to see to see him. She would kiss them both and show them her drawings and tell him what she had done at Kindy.

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