A Light During My Darkest Days
A story by Lisa Fowler
Waipuna Hospice cared for us physically and emotionally, preparing us for the difficult journey of grief, loss, and bereavement. With your help, they can continue providing this vital support to people in your community.
In 2008, not long before my birthday in August, my life was forever changed when my family received the devastating news that my Dad had been diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.
His condition was already in the late stages, and the doctors informed us there was nothing they could do to prolong his life. There was no treatment, and there was no cure. The realisation struck me hard, knowing that my upcoming birthday would be the last chance I would get to celebrate with my Dad.
My Dad’s condition had rapidly declined, and he was referred to palliative care immediately.
It was during this difficult period that Waipuna Hospice stepped into our lives as a beacon of light.
Their compassionate team of nurses became a constant presence, providing invaluable support in managing my father’s condition and ensuring he was as comfortable as possible. Their care extended beyond the physical, providing emotional guidance to our entire family, preparing us for the challenging journey of grief and loss that lay ahead.
I had heard of hospice before my Dad’s diagnosis, but I didn’t really know what it was. I just thought it was a place where people went to die. I soon came to realise that it was much more than that.
Dad had a real phobia of hospitals and while hospice isn’t a hospital, he still had that association. He wanted to be at home where he was comfortable, surrounded by his family. Waipuna Hospice and their incredible team made that possible. Waipuna Hospice helped us understand what was happening to Dad, what to expect as the end got closer, what we could do to help Dad be more comfortable, and how we could look after each other as well – which was really important, especially afterwards.
We, like many other people, thought that once Dad was gone, that was it – hospice was gone, and we’d be on our own. But that wasn’t the case at all. Their support continued after Dad had passed, and you could tell they really cared.
We weren’t just another family. We were more than a ‘job’. His nurse even came to his funeral. She truly cared for Dad, and for us.
As my father’s diagnosis sank in, I found the term ‘palliative care’ to be both scary and confronting.
I’m not a very spiritual person, but suddenly, I found myself going through a bargaining process with whoever or whatever was out there. I remember saying things like ‘Please find something that can help him’ and ‘If you can cure him, then I’ll do this,’ and even ‘Take me and leave him’.
Grief and denial engulfed me, making it incredibly challenging to come to terms with the impending loss of my Dad.
Waipuna Hospice’s guidance and support were invaluable during this emotional journey. Their presence provided a much-needed lifeline when things were becoming too much.
Knowing that we could reach out to them 24/7 for support and advice was amazing. Having someone to talk to who truly understood what we were going through was a source of immense comfort during those dark days.
As my Dad’s health declined, my family and I cherished the opportunity to fulfil his dream of renewing his wedding vows with my step-mum. Despite the challenging circumstances, we managed to organise a family-filled ceremony on Father’s Day. It was a bittersweet occasion, as my Dad’s strength waned, but the love and presence of our extended family, and the support of Waipuna Hospice, made it an unforgettable and meaningful event.
My Dad passed away just three weeks after his diagnosis, which was heartbreaking. We were hoping for more time.
One thing I remember writing on Dad’s casket is ‘Loving you is easy. I do it every day. Missing you is a heartache that never goes away.’
These words, etched with profound love and grief, encapsulated the depths of emotions we experienced during that difficult time. They serve as a constant reminder of the void left by my Dad’s death and the enduring love we continue to hold in our hearts.
Although short, the care and support that Waipuna Hospice showed to my Dad and our entire family in those three weeks touched my heart deeply.
Following my father’s passing, I felt compelled to give back and honour his memory by supporting Waipuna Hospice. I decided to volunteer in their kitchen, which eventually turned into a part-time role, allowing me to contribute to the work of Waipuna Hospice and support other families during their challenging journeys. I know how important Waipuna Hospice is to the families who need them, and I feel privileged to be able to help.
I am sharing my story, with a heartfelt plea to please consider donating to Waipuna Hospice and help bring some light into the grey and dark days of someone’s end-of-life and bereavement journey.
Please click here to donate. Any amount you can spare would mean the world to Waipuna Hospice, helping them deliver in-home nursing care, counselling, bereavement support, care in their inpatient unit (including meals), and so much more.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for considering donating. With your help, Waipuna Hospice can make a real difference in the lives of families just like mine and bring comfort to those facing one of life’s most challenging moments.
With heartfelt gratitude,
Lisa Fowler – Daughter of hospice patient, Waipuna Hospice staff, volunteer, and supporter.