Writing one year on from the death of her husband, Paul, Julia Shyvers shares how her local hospice “held” and “carried” Paul and his family through the final stages of his illness, and helped ease the fear of dying.
Paul stayed at The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted for the six days before he died. To talk about where you are going to die is very difficult, yet he managed to express what he wanted: to be in a place where he could look out of a window and see trees. He was such an ‘outside man’ and he asked that he could watch nature in those last few days.
The moment we arrived at the hospice Paul was held, we all were as a family. Not only was his physical pain taken away, his mental anguish was greatly eased. We were not in a ‘hospital’ we were ‘at home'. Paul looked out of his window and saw a woodpecker at the bird feeders, frost on the beautifully tended gardens and wildlife which is actively encouraged by the hospice.
Paul was listened to properly by every single nurse and the wonderful doctors. They showed love, respect and compassion. As his wife I felt protective over Paul but here I was put at ease and felt understood, so very important when the situation you are in is frightening and intensely sad. Yet we laughed! We watched films and we talked. Our young sons George and Archie went backwards and forwards to Paul’s room with messages and kisses for him.
Paul was given dignity, true dignity, at the hospice. He passed away peacefully, in no pain, with me by his side. This gave us all such comfort, that somehow the impossible had been made possible in this amazing hospice.
To me, hospice care means that the worry, the responsibility and the pain are lifted from the person who cares desperately about their loved one. My job, my soul purpose was to sit with my husband, love him, cherish him and hold him. The hospice took on my role. They carried Paul and his family. They looked after his body and mind and allowed us to be together in a place where we felt safe without question or fear. If we could all know that when our time to pass comes we would receive the care that Paul received, then I believe the fear that we may have of dying would be eased.
The Hospice is a place of light, love and positivity. Yet there is sensitivity and a deep understanding of individual need and the journey that we were on. Saying goodbye hurts so very much, but we were carried beautifully to that final and peaceful moment.
Originally published on ehospice: The hospice "held" and "carried" my wonderful husband