Death is an interesting thing isn’t it? Apart from anything else it’s universal – we’re all going to do it. The second thing is it’s unique – every single person has a different experience of death.
I knew absolutely nothing about St Richard’s Hospice when we first came across it.
I had met my wife, Catriona, in 2002. She was a widow with two children and she had had breast cancer. We knew that hovering in the background was the possibility it would come back. Three years ago this month it came back.
Eventually we knew it was not going to be very long and our St Richard’s Hospice nurse said: “I think we have got a bed for you.”
I knew by the look on my wife’s face when we wheeled her into the room that it was going to be alright. It looked like a five-star hotel room, it worked like a five-star hotel room.
When she came in she was fuzzy round the edges due to oral morphine and she wasn’t making a lot of sense. She came in here almost unable to communicate – 24 hours later I came back and, due to the treatment given here, she was sitting up in bed watching Channel 4 racing and the woman I loved with her mind as sharp as a razor, communicative, funny and brave.
She had told the staff here she wanted to see her 64th birthday and she wanted to die at home. They helped her do both.
We took her home and she had a terrific birthday. All the family came and all our friends came – we had beautiful weather in the garden and she loved it all.
Six days later my wife became deeply unconscious at home and the hospice stepped in again. They moved her down here gently and she spent the last 12 hours of her life unconscious in the wonderful surroundings here with her family.
The family, particularly the children, can now concentrate on all the good memories and good things we all shared rather than the end being a miserable, nasty experience.
I find it difficult to find words to tell you how brilliant these people are and how much they help in the most difficult of times. On behalf of Catriona and her family thank you very much indeed.
By David Craig