Visiting my dad in the hospice
Laura’s dad Colin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 when he was 49 years old. Colin lived with prostate cancer for four years and passed away in his local hospice in 2015. Laura, her sister Hannah and her mum Kathryn spent a lot of time visiting Colin in the hospice during his last two months.
When dad was diagnosed, I was 19 years old and studying at university. It was a shock at first but we soon learnt that there are lots of different treatments, even for advanced prostate cancer. We were very close as a family and mum and dad would keep me and my sister updated on what was happening. When things got worse and the treatment wasn’t working, dad went into the hospice to be looked after.
I lived about 50 minutes away from the hospice. When dad first went into the hospice, I went to visit two or three times every weekend. We’d sit around chatting, listen to music, doing activities – just like at home, really. My mum took time off work and spent most of her time at the hospice.
We’d sit around chatting and listen to music – just like at home, really.
In the last two weeks of dad’s life, my sister and I went to stay at my mum and dad’s house, which was near the hospice. We went into the hospice from 10am to 6pm each day. My nana, grandad and auntie were also there a lot. Everyone was very supportive. My mum stayed in the hospice. She slept in a recliner armchair next to my dad and they had a shower she could use. They didn’t have any restrictions on visiting times, so we could visit at any time.
They didn’t have any restrictions on visiting times, so we could visit at any time.
It was dad’s 54th birthday while he was in the hospice and we had a little party with close family – with party hats and everything! He loved seeing everyone and having people around.
Dad's final days
In the last couple of days, we all wanted to spend time with dad. We took it in turns to go into his room so that we didn’t overcrowd him. He had a long talk with each of us about our future without him. He told me that he wanted me to keep doing my PhD full time and get it done.
He had a long talk with each of us about our future without him.
A lot of the time my dad was asleep or drowsy. He didn’t open his eyes or move very much. But we knew he was listening because when he was awake he would talk about things we’d said when we thought he was asleep.
He was struggling with pain and was a bit confused. The doctors explained to us that they could give him more painkillers but it would make him more sleepy. We agreed that they should make him as comfortable as possible. It made him very sleepy and he passed away in his sleep.
We agreed that the doctor should make him as comfortable as possible.
After dad passed away, we busied ourselves with planning the funeral. We spent a lot of time thinking about the music and readings we wanted to celebrate dad’s life with – we wanted to get it right and make it as special as possible.
We wanted to make the funeral as special as possible.
At the funeral, we met people from all different aspects of dad’s life – his rugby club, work, and friends and family. It was a very special day and everyone had their moment to say goodbye.
My tips for family and friends
- Ask questions. We found the staff at the hospice very helpful and we had regular meetings to update us about dad’s condition. We asked direct questions to understand how long my dad would survive, to help us to prepare as a family.
- Try not to be too scared. The horrific and distressing death I was scared of never came. It was incredibly sad but it was peaceful and dignified.
- It’s hard but it’s getting better. We miss dad every day. I took my dad’s advice and continued with my PhD full-time. I’m now almost finished and I know he would be really proud of me.