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Caring for my beautiful husband as he died and through the days that followed

After Morgan's second surgery he couldn't remember Fiona's name, but when asked who she was he answered "the love of my life".

Who is the best person to care for someone who has died? Sometimes, a person who loved them when they were living. Dr Fiona Reid shares her experience caring for her husband Morgan throughout his illness and in the days after his death.

My husband Morgan was a kind, active and talented man. I felt tremendously lucky when I met him and continued to do so throughout our years together.

Morgan was remarkably fit, working as a stuntman internationally. He trained every day and could perform feats of acrobatics and skill. So it came as a shock when he called me at work one day to tell me he was having difficulty spelling. My heart fluttered and my stomach turned over. I felt an intense sense of dread but tried to convince myself that I was overreacting.

I told him to stay at home and that I would be there shortly. I drove home and held Morgan in my arms. We both knew something was very wrong. Despite this, I was totally unprepared for what happened next; for the utter horror of watching his scan and seeing the large tumour in his brain. My legs wobbled. I wasn’t supposed to be in the CT room because today I was a patient’s wife and not a doctor, but no-one thought to stop me. I still think that was one of the worst moments – the moment the world ended.

“Are there any gremlins in my brain?” he asked. “Yes darling, there is a gremlin”.

Like most people, we had a lot of hope. Morgan was young, he was strong, I was a doctor. Surely the 14-month prognosis was not for him.

Morgan and Fiona participating in a fundraising run, six weeks after his first operation.

He endured two operations on his brain, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, three experimental treatments and more chemotherapy before finally in January 2016 we decided to stop most treatments and concentrate on what little time we had left.

By this time my gorgeous husband was struggling. He had lost half his vision, he couldn’t use the right side of his body, his face was swollen from steroids and he was very tired. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t look after him. I began to prepare for caring for him at home.

I was lucky to have some knowledge of what caring for someone who is dying might entail, but whatever I knew as a doctor was a fraction of the real experience. I prepared though. I read blogs written by other women who had cared for their husbands through brain cancer. I researched the timeline, what might happen, how his death might be, what symptoms may occur. I tried to predict.

I learned that we continue to hope, even when things are deteriorating. So even if we only get a “good hour” we hope for another later or tomorrow. We learn to reduce our expectations, such that a smile or a squeeze of the hand seems like a victory and the promise of recovery. Therefore in order to prepare, you must force yourself to remember what happened yesterday and last week. When there are more bad days or bad hours than good ones, you know it’s time to make arrangements.

The hardest thing was doing this whilst still trying to keep up Morgan’s spirits (not that he needed much help; he was extremely positive right until the end). I tried to be open with him, but he looked a little hurt when I had the hospital bed delivered. I felt I had let him down a little, but he was struggling to sit up and I was finding it difficult to lift him.

The bed came just in time. A few days later he was unconscious and although he woke up, he never spoke or left his bed again until after his death three weeks later.

You need equipment if you are to care for someone at home. I needed a bed, a wheelchair, a commode, a bath board and later continence aids, pads, eucalyptus oil, face-washers, medications, liquid thickeners and bed shampoo caps. Most things were rented. I bought consumables from disability companies and the palliative care nurses provided some.

Mostly I needed strength, love and support from family and friends – they believed I could do it and the thought of giving him up to someone else’s care frightened me more than caring for him myself.

I decided early that as much as I loved Morgan he didn’t belong to me, and he deserved to be surrounded by love as often as possible. So I declared an open house. I told everyone that they were welcome to visit at any time and without notice, but I also warned them that I would not be providing food or drink and that if the house was full or it was a bad time they may be asked politely to leave.

I also asked for two hours each day to be alone with Morgan. I put on nice music, burned a candle, bathed him, cuddled him and had some quiet time with him. This was precious time for me. Usually, he would smile at me, then fall asleep as I washed him. I put eucalyptus oil in hot water to freshen the air and massaged lavender oil into his temples to soothe him.

It was during this three weeks that I began to think about “after”. His death had now become a real inevitability; he had stopped talking, eating and swallowing, and he slept more often than not. It felt awfully disloyal to start planning his funeral before his death but I was desperate to do something that honoured him and I knew that every funeral I had been to so far would fall short of his expectations. I had little to go on. He did not want to talk about it. He did not want to be cremated, he wanted to be buried somewhere “with trees” – not a manicured cemetery, and without religion.

I knew I wanted to care for him until the last minute – I never wanted to let him go – but I had no idea what was possible. My experience of death so far had been as a doctor working in a hospital and try as we might it is a cold environment, people are rushed through the death of a loved one and bodies are moved quickly to morgues.

I stumbled on home death care. I was looking at local funeral directors and I felt empty – they all seemed so cold, so scripted, the coffin so pointless. I had no idea what to do. By chance, I found a wicker coffin on an Australian site and I thought it looked beautiful, natural, easily degradable and strangely, comfortable. I looked for the local retailer and found Natural Grace holistic funeral directors. It was as if Natural Grace was made for us.

I watched an interview with managing director Libby Moloney and instantly felt that she was special. Libby specialised in home death care and I knew I wanted to keep Morgan’s body at home. She knew a natural burial site which was 10 minutes away from where we were married. It seemed perfect.

I called Libby, speaking softly and feeling awful guilt as I sat in the same room as my sleeping and alive husband. She was incredibly compassionate. She seemed to understand my hesitation and confusion. She was supportive and never pushed.

I crawled into bed with Morgan on the night of Easter Sunday. I knew this was it. I put my arms around him and a few hours later he took a final breath. It broke my heart.

Libby told me that when he died I should feel free to spend some time with him before calling her. I cuddled him and cried. I called his family and they came we spent a few hours together until 4 am, toasting him with single malt whisky and sobbing together. I called Libby and the palliative care nurses in the morning but asked everyone to leave me alone with him until noon. I wanted to wash and dress him and I wanted to do this alone.

Libby came to the house. It was the first time we had met and she was wonderful. The first thing she said was how beautiful Morgan was and then she asked if she could touch him. I was so grateful for that.

She showed me how to set up the cooling blanket then she talked me through what to expect and watch for. She was honest and very frank which I appreciated. We talked about fluids and smell and flies and all those horrible things that could potentially occur but didn’t. Then she suggested I take some locks of his hair.

She offered to do all these things for or with me but was sensitive to the fact I wanted to do it myself. I knew I had made the right decision; had an undertaker come to take Morgan away from me at that moment I think I would have screamed. The pain of his loss was unbearable and I needed a little more time.

I decided that the first day would be for family only, the following for friends and family. I made and received various calls. I warned everyone “Morgan is still here, he looks peaceful”. I told them not to come for my sake but that if they wanted to come and say goodbye they would be most welcome.

I had warned his family that I intended to keep him at home. They were very supportive but understandably surprised. They all visited and sat with us, and I think they appreciated it. On the second day, his brother decided it was time for him to say goodbye. “I won’t be back tomorrow,” he said.

Friends were varied in their response. I found that women wanted to come, but men were less sure. Most people seemed glad for the opportunity to say goodbye. Some wanted a few minutes alone with him (this was hard for me but I did it). Some tried to ignore his presence and just talked to me. I continued to sleep on the sofa beside him.

On the third day, I realised I had to let him go. I had sat by his side for a month. I hadn’t stepped outside or seen the sun, I had barely eaten and barely slept. I needed to visit the cemetery, pick out a burial site and organise the funeral. I needed to leave the house but I couldn’t leave his side.

Now when I looked at Morgan I could see he wasn’t there anymore; whatever he had been had left. I called Libby. She came, I helped, and everything was done with the tenderest care. I had arranged a wedding photo, an autumn leaf and a teddy on his chest in his hands and she asked about them so she could recreate it perfectly in the sanctuary at Natural Grace. It was terribly hard but I was glad I felt able to trust Libby to look after him.

I went to the cemetery to pick a site with Morgan’s sister. We didn’t speak about it but we both picked exactly the same spot, under a beautiful Candlebark tree. We went back to Natural Grace and I checked on Morgan. He was there in the sanctuary, looking just as undisturbed and peaceful, the items arranged just so. Then we discussed the funeral and Libby was open to everything we wanted or suggested. I asked if we could bring him to the funeral ourselves in his 1974 Bedford van (the Beast); “A wonderful idea!” she giggled. She recommended a celebrant. We wanted mulled wine served – “No problem”. I wanted guests to be able to tie messages and flowers into the casket – “Easy”. We would like Morgan’s father to play his pipes – “Lovely”.

On 1st April 2016, we buried my beautiful husband. We met at Natural Grace and I spent the morning sitting with him, holding his hand. I had picked flowers to place in the coffin with him. His family and I placed him gently into his wicker basket coffin. We arranged flowers around him. We placed him in his van. We said goodbye.

We held the service at the cemetery with 300 mourners. Libby looked after me, making sure someone gave me food and drink, and guiding me through the funeral, sometimes physically. She did not rush me, even though the service went much longer than anyone anticipated. Afterwards, at the wake, there must have been 100 people who told me how beautiful it was, and how “Morgan” it was. No-one had been to a similar funeral and they were amazed.

The decision to care for my husband at home before, during and after his death was simple for me but would have been all the harder, perhaps impossible, without the kind, attentive, professional support of Libby, and the loving acceptance of my and  Morgan’s family. They allowed me to make these decisions and held my hand throughout this most devastating time. For this, I am eternally grateful to them.


Comments

  • Thank you so much for sharing this experience. I will soon be saying goodbye to my dearly loved mother. I don't know if I, or any of my brothers and sisters, will want to care for her at home until the end and after she dies, but your story has given me a great deal to think about.

    - Vicki Stafford
  • Hi. I have just read this. Whilst twelve months have now passed I am sure you still hold your dear Morgan so close to your heart. I hope that if I am ever in your position that I would have the strength to be as strong as you. How wonderful that you had the opportunity to spend such precious time with him

    - Rhonda (from Australia )
  • Hi Dr Reid, Thank you for sharing your story. I cared for my wife Leeanne at home who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to her brain in February 2016 and later other sites. Leeanne died May 2017 and was only 46. I took over a year off work to care for her so we could live our lives in the best way possible. Optimizing quality of life guided our approach and Leeanne's often difficult medical decisions. We had an extraordinary year or so living life to the full. We'd had such a peaceful, loving and gentle time, more time than expected, and for me it was a privilege to care for Leeanne. She very much wanted to die at home and I managed to care for her until the day before she died. Her body began rapidly shutting down and care quickly moved beyond my ability or resources. Calling the ambulance that last time still fills me with feelings of guilt. Even now I’m haunted by Leeanne's last day. As a couple we became so close and it often seemed like we were one person. However, Leeanne’s deterioration was so rapid our medical team couldn’t easily manage the situation. I still have nightmares reliving that last 20 hours or so where I felt completely helpless watching my wife suffer. I’ve had regular counselling for well over a year and since Leeanne’s death I’ve been trying to get on with life as best I can. Our experience was similar to yours in many ways but significantly different in others. We had lovely warm funeral directors and Leeanne pre-planned much of her own funeral. We had almost no visitors, except a few key people, and Leeanne and I preferred it that way. Our home was sanctuary. Leeanne’s feelings of safety and security were so important and visitors would upset that for her. I was Leeanne’s only carer and close adult family member, so often felt isolated but like Leeanne preferred very few people around. My friends were a tremendous support, however, as was our GP, McGrath Nurse and Palliative team. Leeanne only really wanted her children and me around. I intend to write more about our experiences but hopefully it may help or comfort others going through a similar experience. Your story has certainly helped me and I’m sure others. Leeanne almost always put on a brave face but she felt genuinely happy and secure at home in my care. We have many photos that reflect this. We managed a number of fantastic holidays I’ll never forget and many small but precious moments that only she and I shared.

    - John Williams
  • My sweet sister-in-law looked after my brother very much in the same beautiful manner. She had her friends helping her with Dutch 'afleggen' and his funeral was just as beautiful. The grief stays and we have to work through that, but how we can say goodbye will give us peace and the courage to move on.

    - Josy Ludwig
  • Im sorry you had to go thru this, but your story is brilliant and you are so 'lucky' to have been able to say goodbye to your Morgan in this way

    - Ash
  • that was so lovely thank you for sharing blessing to you xx

    - alison watkins
  • Hi I am a palliative nurse in Western Australia. Your words were profound. Such love and devotion for your husband. I to have difficulty thinking that one of my loved ones would be taken away by funeral directors and loved hearing all the beautiful things you did for Morgans funeral. I am very fortunate to help people die at home with their families. I will remember reading this as it has helped me even more see how it is for loved ones left behind. You are a beautiful person. Thankyou for sharing

    - A Byrne
  • You were so lucky to know and be prepared (if one can) for your husband leaving I guess being a doctor helped

    - Karen Austyn
  • I had two dogs called Albert and Buddy. We were a family unit for more than 12 years and they died within a year of each other. In both cases I was lucky enough to spend the last 24 hours with them , they got to eat their favourite foods and have a last walk and a swim and see their favourite humans and canine friends and I sat up with each of them the night before they were euthanised watching them sleep and remembering all our good times. I'd never believed in ritual before but it was such a warm intense happy time. On the morning that Buddy died I learned that some one very close to me had been diagnosed with an awful cancer. They are doing well and hope of remission is always there for an optimist like me but Heart felt thanks for your beautiful share which will inform my actions if my Cuz dies and I have to support her family. Xxx

    - Andrea Twell
  • Dear Fiona. It's me - Libby. My tears are flowing in absolute awe at your generosity in writing this piece. You are lavish with praise for those of us so fortunate to have walked alongside you and yet of course, all if this - every breathtakingly beautiful moment - was due to you. You honour your Morgan. And I am deeply grateful for the honour you bestowed on me. x

    - Libby Moloney
  • I have to say you were lucky to be able to care for him. My husband died unexpectedly and alone. I wish I'd been able to care for him as you did.

    - Judith lennon
  • I did the same home care for my dear wife during her final days who suffered from GBM. Two surgeries, seventeen months of battle with this dreadful and wicked disease!

    - Ferdinand Pineda
  • What a beautiful, kind, gentle and loving end to this mans life. Thank you for sharing this sad and sweet story so honestly xxx

    - Suz
  • I am a nursing home manager and this was Beautiful and so so personal and the way end of life should be xx

    - Karen Clarke
  • Such a beautiful life experience of how we can let love in and guide us to allow a true unfolding when preparing for death, which shows there is nothing to fear.

    - Susan Walker
  • Wonderful. But so terribly sad. I wish you great strength and happiness for the years that follow.

    - Barnaby
  • Oh my! I'm currently going through this with my husband- but I've been told I am not able to care for him at home, that he needs to be in a nursing home . Neither of us want this, how do I get to care for him at home? Thank you for sharing your story. Bless you and may your memories of Morgan never fade ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    - Kate
  • Thank you so much Fiona for sharing your beautiful story.

    - Kiri Manning
  • What a beautiful article. Libby and her team are doing something so very special - people need this tenderness and attention to detail when their world falls apart.

    - Jane Walduck
  • A most intimate and thought provoking article. Thank you Fiona and Morgan

    - Annie Whitlocke
  • Thank you so very much for sharing your beautiful story.

    - Linda M
  • How beautiful to travel his journey with him

    - Karen
  • What a beautiful life journey. Morgan was very lucky to have had such a loving partner. I too am quite ill, and am truly appreciative of my own loving husband who takes such good care of me. It's strange how life twists and turns and delivers exactly what we don't expect. Thank you for sharing your story.

    - sheila mulcahy
  • Thank you for this deeply intimate sharing. I am a nurse and educator. I teach a class on end of life care and first came to know about these options through a PBS show - A Family Undertaking. Beautiful to hear of your tender experience. Thank you

    - Andra
  • Wow, you are such a loving wife! I admire your self-awareness of your need to design it the best way per his request and meet your own needs. I hope you will find peace in knowing you did a great job! And I know this experience will make you an even better physician!

    - Molly Byock
  • Wow ... simply moving. If I had to go through the same decisions for my husband or child I would like to think I could have these choices.

    - Jennifer Winter
  • I lost my husband almost 2years ago. I am a nurse but was unable to manage him on my own at home, he was confused as well. I made the decision to have him admitted to hospital and I don't regret one moment of that time. He and my daughters and I were treated with the very best of care. There was not a decision made that we weren't consulted about , we were free to stay with him 24 hours a day and we did that. We were also involved with caring for him. When he did pass we were allowed as much time as we wanted with him and were never rushed in anyway. My funeral director couldn't have been more caring and again we were treated with respect and compassion. It turned a sad process into something that we have lovely memories of. As I Nurse I always respected the wishes of the family and helped many beautiful people through the process, I consider it one of the greatest honours to be given that opportunity. I am glad that your experience was a nice one for you

    - J Fitzsimmons
  • Thankyou for sharing. We are coming up to 2 years without my beutiful son. He died from an AVM, sort of like an aneurysm a week after his 21st. I am also a nurse and the 6 weeks we had him on life support was amazing. The Nurses etc were unbelievable. When he finally passed they encouraged me to lie with him and that was the best gift ever. You are an amazing person and your journey has touched me xoxox

    - Sarah Stanford
  • What a beautiful & sad read. Only a remarkable woman could be this caring.

    - Jenny
  • ON JUNE 24TH, 2017 AT 11:19 PM, I TOO SAID GOOD-BYE TO MY BEST FRIEND OF 37 YEARS. MY HUSBAND WAS EVERYTHING TO ME AND STILL IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE. WE DID LEAVE THE HOSPITAL THIS TIME TO COME HOME TO SAY OUR FINAL GOOD-BYES. THAT IS WHAT HE WANTED AND SO DID I. YOUR STORY HAS A GOOD MANY MOMENTS LIKE OURS. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. I AM DOING OKAY. OUR SON AND HIS FAMILY ARE TAKING GOOD CARE OF ME AND VERY SOON I WILL BE BACK AT MY HOME TAKING CARE OF MYSELF. MAY GOD BLESS AND KEEP YOU ALWAYS. MARY O'FALLON

    - MARY O'FALLON
  • Beautiful.Thank you.

    - Mereana
  • Dear Fiona how beautiful and painful to read. My husband Tim passed away 8 years ago when our only daughter was 2. He had a GBM4 which was diagnosed 18 months before he passed away. It was a tough time at diagnosis as I was about to return to work after maternity leave, my daughter was only 8 months at the time. I have to say I just wish that I was able to spend the time with Tim that you did with Morgan towards the end. We were on a final family holiday at the Gold Coast when Tim went downhill very quickly. He passed away there, away from home. When he did wake in between his unconsious episodes he just wanted to go home. It was so heart wrenching that I couldn't take him home. Anyway enough about me. Just wanted to say thank you for your words, they made me cry, they bought back memories, they made me miss him but most of all made appreciate him and the time we did have together.

    - Aretha
  • Your story is both beautiful and wrenching. Arguably, more importantly, it is so supremely honouring of Morgan and you, as exceptional wife as the love of his life. I lost my precious and only sister 12 months ago and resonate with the incredible importance and legacy of this cherished time with them. I miss her profoundly. Thank you dearly.

    - Paul
  • Thank you for sharing your story. Just over 6 months ago i nursed and cared for my beautiful husband who passed just after xmas. I lay with him in his final moments and for many more after. You brought back so many memories for me. Still today i struggle with his loss but i know he is no longer struggling. Thank you im not the only one! !

    - Traecy Fynn
  • Thanks for sharing. He was so lucky to have you by his side.

    - Guy
  • Thankyou

    - Michelle
  • I too went through a similar process with my Mother and nursed her at home till she died. I stayed by her side and slept in a bed alongside her and also after she had died. I wouldn't let anyone else wash and dress her except for my brother. We both felt that it was a great privilege to do this and one that we were so grateful to be able to do. It was a year ago, 3rd July 2016 and now I sleep in her room. Whilst it has changed somewhat it is still her room and will always be. I honoured her wishes to the end and kept her at home. I would not have done it any other way . Thank you for sharing your story with us all and I fully empathise with you.

    - Mireille Romeyko
  • Beautiful ..... I cared for my mother for 5 1/2 years in my home up until the last 4 days .... an honour and a deep love ..... I understood every thing you mentioned ... mum in her last four days was surrounded by so much love from her family and friends .. we sang /we chatted/ we laughed/we crieid / we told jokes and we told mum that she could leave, we would be ok .... but she hung in there after struggling with Dementia for 5 1/2 years ... mum always loved being surrounded by her loving family .... and on the 27/06/16 mum took her leave early that morning with her two daughters on either side of her .... we then had our time with mum and also washed and dressed mum and waited till she was picked up till the undertakers arrived ... mum was buried on 30/06/16 ... my birthday .. ❤️ I lost my husband to suicide 5 years before hand and never had the chance to care for him !!!

    - Carmel Abbott
  • Hi Fiona, Such a sad and beautiful story of a special relationship between yourself and Morgan. It is a blessing to be able to care for a dying loved one at home. It is unfortunate not to be able to change the outcome but to make sure our loved ones die with dignity and hopefully with all things going well at home if that is their wish. I and my family cared for my son Tommy aged 6 , diagnosed with T cell lymphoblastic lymphoma at home and had an amazing palliative care nurse, Leeanne who guided us and a palliative care team who worked around the clock. He died surrounded by his family. We had special time singing to him, reading him stories. I could not part with Tommy and kept him home for 2 nights in my room. I have his ashes and I can't bear to part with them. I keep them in a cabinet with his toys. Unfortunately, my mother died on 20 March 2016 and we also cared for her in her home leading up to her death from a terminal lung condition. She died surrounded by family. Once again we were backed by an amazing palliative care team. My mum held me when I came into the world and I held my mum as she left the world. If not for home palliative care, this peaceful unrushed experience would not have been possible. We can't stop death, but we can plan for a 'good' death.

    - Cheryl Hammond
  • Hi, what a beautifully expressed piece. So touching. I'm a palliative care nurse in country Western Australia. Natural burials are becoming more popular and available here. They are beautiful and while nothing ever makes a funeral easier, they just feel so right and so peaceful for some people. I really hope you are ok. I wish you all the best and thank you again for sharing your story. I have learnt from it and it will make me a better nurse. X

    - Jo
  • Dear Fiona, I think what you did for your husband was wonderful. My husband of 38 years passed away at home with me and his dogs surrounding him with love. He died peacefully in my arms after a battle with Cancerous tumours in the liver. I too had an open house policy in the same manner as you did. Once he had slipped into a coma I did stop people coming. My husband had said before he passed away, that he didn't want his friends to think of him the way he was when he was sick. He was such a larger than life man. It is six years now that he is gone, and it seems like yesterday. I know that he would be proud of how my life has moved on, but I miss him everyday.

    - Val Smith
  • Your story is exemplar, and has impacted many lives. Thank you.

    - Alicia Arribas
  • We were fortunate enough to all take time off work and move extended family in to look after my (youngish) father during his terminal cancer journey..however what one has to remember that not all terminal cancer patients can be cared for at home due to needing extensive morphine and other requirements we are unable to access at home..soo sad but true..and this has to change

    - Kim
  • Having been a community nurse I have had the privilege of supporting families caring for their loved ones at home towards and following the end of life...sadly it becomes increasingly difficult for 'older' partners to keep their loved ones at home as you Fiona were able to with your beloved Morgan.

    - Helen Austen
  • With tears in my eyes I read this story. My father passed away last year and 6 weeks prior to his death I cared for him at home for a week. As the saying goes, home is where the heart is and I am just glad I spent that precious week with him. Unfortunately he did not have that comfort of home until the end of his life, but reading your story makes me determined that my husband and I will give each other that comfort of being at home when that day comes. Fiona, Libby and your family and friends are to be congratulated for making yours and Morgans final moments together a lovely experience

    - Annie Kingston Qld
  • This is a beautiful way to pass on. I hope I can do this for my parents. As a single person with no children, I wish I could have such a peaceful passing. If mine is a natural death, it will most likely be in hospital or nursing facility since I have only distant nephew and niece. I wonder if there are accommodations that can be made to give single people alone a relatively peaceful passing, also?

    - Connie
  • My heart was opened by this article of grief and loss, not closed with fear. ...how brave are the carers in this story. Libby you are a magnificent woman that sits with grace and kindness in a unique and special way. The world needs your services and the whole team that supports you. Blessings go out to all on this journey. Teresa Mallon

    - Teresa Mallon
  • Fiona, thanks so much for writing this. I was at high school with Morgan, and had heard through classmates he had died of a brain tumour - I haven't seen him since high school but will always remember the guy who climbed out the window in music class (the teacher was completely flummoxed). I am a doctor (geriatrician) and I nursed my 8yo son at home, who died of a brain tumour in 2015. Very special time, thanks for describing this most intimate time so others can know something of it. Much love and respect.

    - Jackie B
  • Beautiful-sad-heartrending. Thank you for sharing your experiences of caring so lovingly for your husband at the end of his too short life.

    - Pat Law
  • What a beautiful story and a blessing for you both. Thanks so very much for sharing this with us all. May you always be blessed with the love and care that you have given so very beautifully...............

    - Lyn / Ananta Ma
  • Truly inspiring! Connie you mentioned in your reply the question of a peaceful passing for those who are alone. I have had a calling to support people to die with peace, dignity and companionship since I was 16. I am 50 next year and in 2017 the time is now right with a wealth of life (and death) experience behind me to transition to this role. I will be training to be an end of life doula commencing in November after completing post grad studies in grief and bereavement. There are many of these trained, skilled and compassionate people in every community. They provide a vital service to people who are dying and want emotional, practical and spiritual support. Doulas are also available to help bereaved families. If you have access to the internet search 'Preparing the Way' - a Melbourne based doula service. Thank you all for your beautiful comments and most of all you Fiona for opening up your soul and allowing strangers the opportunity to have a glimpse of such a poignant experience x

    - Sue
  • Thank you for sharing yours and Morgan;s story Fiona.It meant so much to me as I cared for my beautiful mother at a time before so many things we can do now,were not done then - although it's odd isn't it that back before hospitals and the funeral industry,we pretty much DID do so much more and so much which is natural. I often wondered if I had done all I could do and had many many times of doubt and guilt but I realise now that you can only do what you know and feel to be right at the time unless guided - as you were to an extent by Libby. Sharing your story helped me to realise that what my Mum and I DID share was precious.I slept with and lay next to her the night before she died and I am so glad I did...walked her to the gate so to speak and then I knew her time had come and she would go on ahead. Peace,light,travel well.:)Thank you,

    - Robyn Youlten
  • Thanks for sharing this account of Morgan's final days. I was also a Uni High classmate of Morgan and Jackie, and am a vascular surgeon in Melbourne. You've been incredibly brave – I've always envied Morgan's ability to forge a career that kept all of us saying "wow". Last time I saw him was Ura's wedding – I think we may have met then. Sorry I was not closer towards the end. I'll miss his antics and "Bugarks". May we cross paths in happier times.

    - Jason C
  • So beautiful, thank you for sharing. Love xx

    - Karen P
  • My husband passed with a brain tumour I look after him for nine months that was six years on the 31/7/2011 the only thing that really make me sad that I could not hold him in my arms but I told him how much I loved him and believe me I will alway love him

    - Liz
  • Thankyou for sharing. My daughter died in hospital and we brought her home immediately, she was home on the sofa 2 hours after she died. I slept next to her, friends visited. It was a beautiful, powerful time and like you felt she could go to the funeral home after a few days, it was time. In fact it was her dog that told me, she covered her up with a blanket. love to you from England.

    - belinda chapman
  • Fiona, Thank you so much for your beautiful writing. It is absolutely precious and I shall share it with the many others I work with who are facing end of life. I wrote a book which was published 8 years ago here in Australia 'The Intimacy of Death & Dying' (https://www.facebook.com/IntimacyOfDeathDying/) specifically because I wanted to support my sister-in-law Trish in 2000 to be able to be looked after as you so beautifully looked after Morgan both during end of life, and after. We managed to organise her wedding 36 hours before she died and it was such a bitter/sweet experience for all of us who loved her. I have been honoured to work as Art Therapist in one of only 3 children's hospices here in Australia and I teach a 2 day workshop about death and dying to students who are doing a natural healing diploma. I will feel very honoured to share your beautiful peice with many, I am blessed to spend time with, because it talks of so many things I have learnt are so vital on this journey. Bless you and Morgan

    - Trypheyna
  • lovely...I could say more but I think you've said it all! It was a truly loving and human article to read. I am most grateful for having the opportunity to read such a powerful journey Thank you Fiona.

    - anne jones
  • This is a beautiful testament to your husband and your love and respect.

    - Patti Urban
  • I wrote this article because I believe people deserve to know their options and they deserve the support they need to care for those they love. I was so lucky to be able to care for Morgan in this way and was terribly grateful to be able to wash, dress and care for him as a final act after his death. I wanted to share that so others would have that option too. Writing the article was desperately hard but I felt it important. I thought it would be read by a few people interested in palliative care, I never expected the response I have gotten, the replies, posts and compassion have been overwhelming and I am humbled by them. I certainly never thought that this article would reach some of Morgan's friends, I remember Ura's wedding - Morgan wore his best pants: motocycle jeans, Jackie I can imagine him climbing out a window he made a career out of it in the end. Thank you all for your kind words, I wish all of you facing similar sadness the strength to endure.

    - Fiona Reid
  • Fiona. I understand your story. I too was by the side of my partner/husband during his last 6 months. We'd only met 10 months before, and married 4 days before he passed. Although we had cancelled our wedding, his oncologist wouldn't hear of it and made it possible for him to be released from hospital so we could be married. We were married at his son's house, where he stayed until he peacefully passed. Sadly I wasn't there at the time as I had just popped out with his daughter, but his son was by his side. I slept in the room with him that night in an adjoining room, with him laying peacefully nearby. Although I regret not being there when he passed, I believe it was his choice to go with his sob6by his side, rather than to upset me and his daughter. They will always be by our side in some way.

    - Vicki

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