Trevor Hayley


Funeral and Life Memorial Celebrant

A Caring Presence for you and your family so you can Celebrate a Life

Servicing Greater Adelaide, Fleurieu, South Coast and Adelaide Hills Regions of South Australia



Caring for the Dying at Home

Grief is, because love is #14

Back in February 2019, I posted on the topic of Anticipatory Grief. In that post I told the story of the couple in with the doctor, hearing the news that “there is nothing more that we can do.” The couple look at each other in stunned silence; there are no words. I proposed at this point, for the one not facing death, grief may have started; anticipatory grief. There are a number of choices at this point. I would think, in the majority of cases, the person, who has now taken on the caring role, will want to make the life of the person facing the end, as comfortable as possible.

One option is palliative care. In essence this is putting the comfort of the loved one in the care of a team of professionals who are brilliant at making life as comfortable as possible until the end. They will also walk with the families. Palliative actually means, to care for someone when there is no cure. For some this will be the recommended course of action.

There is another choice. I can recall, a couple of years back, where I was attending to a family in my Celebrant Role, visiting with a husband who cared for his dying wife for over two years at home. Obviously there was some professional care that would come to the home, but for the husband, he just could not come to terms with the fact, of not caring for his wife in the last few precious days. I was able to share with him at the time, how amazing was this act of sacrificial love, that for him was not a sacrifice.

His wife was a vibrant, life of the party, type of person, and he saw this time as a time to give back for the joy his wife had brought him. A beautiful story, and certainly one that was part of the funeral. If you do make this choice, self-care is so important. Once a week, the husband would play a round of golf, at the club where they were both members, and in the process found some release. I also feel, by taking on the caring role at home, that the growing realisation of life coming to an end, may make the grief journey, just a little easier. You can know that you did all you could to make the last few days as bearable as person, in the place the person called home.

There is something almost sacred and holy for being with someone until the end. You watch every laboured breath, wondering whether it will be the last. I got this privilege firstly with my father-in-law, and then a few years later with my own dad. In those initial post-death minutes, the person really seems at peace; the suffering was over. Both of these fine men were too ill to be at home, but the care they received was amazing. Unfortunately my mum, who only lived to 62, died while I was on the way to the hospital, a short 15 minute drive from work. But I was assured by the staff that she was surrounded by them when she died.

At some point we will all come face to face with these choices. It is a choice we do not want to face because this strange and unexpected death is looming. But it is in those final moments, that we cannot not only say goodbye, but also start our grief journey in the best way possible.

The commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash





Trevor Hayley
Servicing Greater Adelaide and Regional South Australia

Phone: 0409 107 372


ABN 73 737 609 724

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