Everyone at the end of their life deserves a choice; a chance to choose where they would like to spend their final days. And that’s the choice we were able to give to Stephen in December 2022. His loving wife Angela has spoken about his care.
My husband, Stephen, was a very caring person. He loved card games, The Beano comic and surprises. He looked after me each of the 34 years we were married – as well as our children.
It was a shock when he became seriously ill last year; everything changed. He had pulmonary fibrosis which affects the lining of the lungs; he could no longer walk very far and was always out of breath. Some of the medicines he took made him retain water; it got so bad that he had to be admitted to the hospital to get it drained.
After that, his mobility diminished; he went on oxygen and I had to push him in a wheelchair. That’s when we met the hospice team. Stephen was so poorly he told the nurses that he didn’t want to live anymore. But the nurses were so lovely. I’ll never forget one encouraging him, ‘You’ve still got a little while to go darling!’. Each time they visited, they helped him to be clean and comfortable and at peace.
It was so important for Stephen to be at home when the time came – and the nurses were so helpful in granting his wish. They were there for me too. I remember ringing them one time at 4am; they came at once and said ‘Don’t worry, we’re here to look after him. Have you had any sleep?’. And of course, I hadn’t – I’d been up with him all night. It was such a relief having them there when we both needed them.
Christmas was a big holiday for us. Stephen used to say to the kids, ‘It’s not Christmas until you hear Slade say “It’s Chriiiiiissstmas!”’– and the kids believed him! So, at the beginning of December, I decorated the house so it was nice and Christmassy, which Stephen liked. Stephen didn’t make it to Christmas though; he died, peacefully, at home on the 19th December. I don’t know how we’ll make it through this Christmas, but we’ll see how we go.
The grandkids, who are three and six, asked if we could get a star for grandad. So, we’ve bought a star to go just above the Christmas tree. Every time I tell them ‘Nanny’s ok,’ they say to me, ‘Granddad’s ok as well, he’s a star Nanny!’. And so are the nurses from the hospice. I hope that you can help them this year and give care to another family like ours in their most desperate time of need.