I am an advocate for dying matters. I believe that when your loved one is nearing the end of their life, you and your family should be told about the choices for their care. It is not an easy conversation to have.
I recently heard about a family who were mourning the loss of their mother, just before Mothering Sunday. She was an old lady with dementia, living in a care home, with serious underlying medical problems. But she was well cared for and her family loved her and visited her several times a week.
When the family received a phone call late one night, they were understandably concerned. The GP had been called to the care home. It was not her usual doctor, but there should have been a chart and notes on her condition. Apparently there was not. The old lady was transferred to a nearby hospital, where the consultant said there was nothing he could do for her, and returned her to the care home.
Twelve hours later, having never regained consciousness, she passed away, with her family at her side.
Her family are questioning the decision made by the hospital consultant, to return their mother to the care home to die. They are questioning whether treatment should have been started, to prolong their mother’s life. No doubt these questions will be answered and the family will be able to continue their grieving.
But, what if the care home staff had had the confidence to talk to the family, to talk them through the options. If the care home staff weren’t qualified to do so, what about the GP? If the family had been able to understand that their mother had already begun her final journey, for death sometimes comes slowly to the frail, surely they would have been better equipped to deal with her passing.
Another family, left in tears for a loved one, grieving for things not said or done.