Mark Twain once said that we should not complain about getting older, as it’s a privilege denied to many.
The wisdom in these words is easier to recognise when we’re healthy; it is when we are facing our end that it can be more difficult to see. In these trying times, having the support of a person with the right balance of compassion and expertise makes all the difference.
We were recently able to offer support to a terminally ill woman and her family when Lyn, one of our care companions, was called upon to comfort her.
Caroline, or Kip as she was known to those close to her, enjoyed a healthy and active lifestyle until about a year ago when she started struggling to maintain her balance while cycling. A visit to the doctor revealed devastating news – she had cancer of the brain and lungs. It was inoperable and aggressive, and a few short months later she could no longer get through her daily routine on her own.
Kip’s daughter, together with her sister Maureen, moved in to help - but by Christmas, Kip’s health had begun to rapidly decline and it became clear that she needed professional assistance. Sister Chris Horley from St Luke’s was enlisted first and together with Moira, a carer from the CareCompany, they proved invaluable to the Kirkham family. Then in February, as Kip was nearing the end, Lyn was brought on board full-time for specialised care.
On the 5th March, Kip passed away. Such was the support and comfort Lyn was able to offer that, within a few short weeks, she had already become a part of the family. When asked what made her such an effective end of life carer, Lyn paused before responding, “I think it’s because I’m totally honest with my patients. I have enough respect not to pander to them, and in that way I allow them to retain their dignity right to the end.”
“Thank you [Lyn] for all the support you gave Kip, you were absolutely incredible. It was so lovely to have a person around while we were going through this dreadful time; to have somebody so strong in the background.” – Jacques Kirkham, Kip’s husband.
A terminal illness can put tremendous strain on a family, yet it’s an ordeal that need not be suffered alone. With a knowledgeable, compassionate carer looking after the patient, loved ones can devote their energy to spending quality time with them in their final days.
It takes a special kind of person to look after the dying and we are grateful to Lyn and all those like her who have the strength to make passing on a little less daunting or lonely.
If you or someone close to you could do with the support of a specialised carer like Lyn, please call us and get the help they need and the help you need..