A Cherished Goodbye - June's Story

It was the first anniversary of my Mum’s death two days ago. I have such mixed emotions about it. I miss her terribly, but I am glad I had the chance to say goodbye as I did.

Mum had been living with dementia in the Aged Care Home for two years. The residence was close to my home and I spent every day visiting her two to three times a day. The nurses at the Aged Care Home were lovely, but I gladly helped Mum whenever I was there to help her shower and eat.

We had spoken with Mum about her advanced care plan. She had told me that she did not want any recovery actions to be made if the time came. Mum had a stroke and went downhill very quickly. The doctors asked me what I wanted to do. I confirmed the details of her care plan, explaining it was Mum’s wishes not to have any intervention. The doctor evaluated the situation and was agreeable. The team were very kind and respected those wishes: both Mum’s and ours.

The care team were quite upfront and comfortable talking about the process with me. They explained what was going to happen and gave me the opportunity to ask questions. The doctor was particularly fantastic. She worked at a nearby doctor’s practice and dropped everything that day to come along and assess Mum’s situation.

Once it became clear that Mum’s condition was deteriorating, we helped her into bed and made her feel comfortable. Mum was put on a morphine driver to keep her comfortable and we allowed things to progress from there over the next four days.

Throughout this time, we were supported by the nurses at the Aged Care Home. There were different nurses on shift, coming and going. I didn’t leave Mum’s side. They were very understanding and went out of their way to accommodate my needs. I wanted to stay with Mum overnight and they sourced a stretcher so I could sleep. They didn’t have one, so they went out and purchased a new stretcher so I could sleep comfortably by her side.

On the night she died, one particular nurse was there. I count myself as lucky and believe it was for a reason. Living in a small community, it was fortuitous I had known the nurse who was also a client at my workplace. She was a very experienced nurse and was acutely aware at the moment she entered the room that Mum was about to die. She came over and gently woke me up. She brought me over to Mum and I had an incredibly unique and rare experience–one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Mum opened her eyes and I could speak to her. At that very moment, I could hold her hand, be with her and tell her “it’s ok”. It was such a unique experience that would not have happened if it was not for the nurse’s experience and compassion to wake me up and allow me to share my Mum’s final breath.

I still go down to the Aged Care Home to see the residents and to help as a volunteer. It is difficult, but I am blessed I got to spend that moment with my mother. It’s something I’ll cherish forever.