You did this through your support of the team at Hospice. Without the funds and awareness you raise, there would have been no help for Piet and I.
Piet and I had been together for 33 years and married for 31 years. Over time we had two amazing children together. That Piet was 36 years my senior was simply a source of amusement. It meant nothing more. We melded into one person, and that one person refused to acknowledge that we would ever be apart.
When Piet fell ill, I grasped on to the belief that his health would improve if I worked hard enough. You can imagine my horror when our kind doctor suggested involving the palliative care team at Victoria Hospice. I saw only the threat of imminent death. How wrong I was!
The in-home care provided by the Palliative Response Team (PRT) brought such gentle care into the place where we felt safest – home. They gave us compassion, laughter, and hope. One still, grey Sunday morning in March, I called the PRT in distress. Piet’s health had declined, and I was filled with dread. The team arrived an hour later; the nurse was a pillar of strength and optimism.
While they looked after Piet, I went to a quiet part of the house and sobbed until my throat was raw. Then I returned to await their advice with as much bravery as I could muster. Piet was comfortable; I was the one they were worried about. They quickly connected me with a counsellor at Victoria Hospice.
Truth is, I didn’t want to talk to anyone about Piet’s impending passage. I clung to my denial. The counsellor listened as I cried and pleaded and shook with fear. He comforted me. He calmed me down. Then he advised me to talk to Piet about the end.
For 33 years we’d ignored this subject! I told him I wouldn’t do it. We weren’t ready. He cautioned me to think carefully, saying that Piet would want to know that I was okay, that I could manage on my own.
Somehow I plucked up the courage to talk to Piet. I told him I was strong enough to bear whatever came, that I wanted his happiness infinitely more than I wanted my own, and that if that happiness was in another realm now, then so be it.
A few weeks later, Piet passed away. He left peacefully – and I believe joyfully – from the home we’d made together and loved deeply.
For those of you who haven’t endured such a loss, I can only tell you that your efforts for Hospice provide a gift for grieving families which cannot be measured or even adequately described. The tears I’m shedding as I write this are not tears of sorrow, but of joy and gratitude. My beloved husband suffers no more, and his end was all that it should have been…thanks to you.
8 November, 2016