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Dying Matters: Losing a loved one

Cancer Relief Gibraltar is marking Dying Matters this week, a Hospice UK-led initiative that helps open up the conversation on death, dying and bereavement.
As part of this awareness campaign, the charity is sharing testimonials from its members of staff and service users on the hospice service it offers. Today’s testimonial is anonymous.
Each day Chronicle readers will have the opportunity to learn more about the service and the services available when faced with a terminal illness.
The charity is also running a survey on the community’s attitudes towards death which is available on: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/K5YNPCV

When Dave was diagnosed with cancer in August 2015 we went on an emotional journey as a family for five years. There were many obstacles to get through and we never quite knew how much time we had. We initially thought it would be 2 years, but Dave being the determined, stubborn and strong person that he was, we got 5 years. So, when those final months came to us, we struggled to accept the reality.

At first, neither of us would discuss the detail of his death never mind his funeral. We dealt with everything else surrounding it but not the actual death. We had separated back in 2013 and we were not together as a couple, but we were family. We adored each other and we had been in each other’s lives since we were 18. He was never going to die with anyone else. It was always going to be with me and with our children that was a reality from very early on in his illness. However, we didn’t discuss the detail until the end.

When it finally came down to it, our Cancer Nurse (Dani) facilitated [the discussion] ...we made each decision quickly and we didn’t drag out the conversation. She asked the question, he or we answered it with little debate.

He wanted no fuss, no religion involved whereas I wanted to mark his life and have some kind of blessing because that was comforting for me and our kids. It was emotional but we said things that needed to be said.

We also laughed about it, which helped us relax and face the inevitable. We laughed about what he wanted to wear and how he ended up in our son’s most expensive Liverpool FC shirt for that season. Dave loved the idea of it, and on the day he died, so did our son.

Once the details of the funeral were decided with the funeral director, it was put away and we got on with the task in hand…. Dave dying. We could focus on our final days together as a family, nothing was hanging over our heads. It brought tremendous comfort to us all.

Also, I felt by us discussing it and following his wishes it meant he was still with us on the day of the funeral. He had made his contribution, as had we all, and we could feel him with us. It was, in the end, a beautiful reminder to us all about our love for him and his love for us. It all came together, and I am so pleased with that.

I would recommend anyone to plan and openly discuss their death, no matter what the circumstances are. It helps the people who are left behind, and it will give you peace knowing they have a focus for the day and are following your wishes.

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