My father’s death was kind and loving.
I had the support of an understanding GP, many years ago now, who understood that the suffering served no purpose and a prolonged death was the end result. I was fortunate, as I was a nurse of many years standing and my father’s GP had confidence in my ability to care for him.
My father was 71 and had suffered many strokes and was completely incapacitated and in a lot of pain. He was a pilot in the RAF during the Second World War and had suffered head injuries and severe burns and had poor health throughout his life.
His determination to provide for his five children, along with his loving wife, made us a united family in understanding that we needed to care for our father at home and away from the hospital environment, where he lay in pain and discomfort for hours on end even with the ongoing attention from the hospital team.
I, along with the total support of my mother and sisters and their husbands, was able to take Dad home and care for him in the dining room of his own home, surrounded by family and friends. My father was skin and bones when my husband carried him into our home. Dad was never left alone night or day. I was given the necessary medications (injectable) to end my father’s terrible suffering.
My father died very peacefully over two days and we watched him slip away, without the agony that we had witnessed whilst he was hospitalised. From that time onwards I have supported the need for proper legislation for assisted dying. I was very fortunate to, one, be a nurse; two, have the support of a GP who was enlightened and took the risk of leaving with me the required drugs (his final words to me were, ‘just let me know when you need the death certificate and I will come’); and three, have a family who supported the need for us to bring about a kinder death for my father than the one we were witnessing.
At the time of my father’s dying the medical profession had no legal way of dispensing the necessary drugs to aid his death in his family home.
The GP took the risk on our behalf in his strong belief that it was a better way to die than a very slow demise in a hospital ward.
The comfort it gave us all was overwhelming, for we knew Dad’s time had come, but we were able to give him a well-rewarded loving kind end to his hard life – one he so richly deserved. I no longer nurse as I am now 69 years of age and hope to enjoy my retirement with my husband, and when my time comes, may I receive the help from an enlightened GP as my father had.
Nurse Juliana Clemesha, first published in The Damage Done, August 2016