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Can We Ever Be Ready To Part with Our Loved Ones

Can We Ever Be Ready To Part with Our Loved Ones

The Tzu Chi palliative team supports a family in the face of their impending loss with compassion

In the quiet corners of a familiar room, where love and memories linger, Mr Png, at 91, sat tenderly by his wife’s bedside. His gaze, filled with a lifetime of shared moments, fell upon Madam Chan. At 86 years old, his beloved companion had been with him through seven decades of life’s joys and sorrows.

“It’s been quite a while,” Mr Png murmured softly in Teochew, his words carrying the weight of years spent together. 

“Yeah, she has been struggling for a long time, right?” Nancy, a nurse clinician, responded in the same dialect with empathy, her presence a source of solace in the midst of hardship. 

“Yes, indeed,” Mr Png sighed, his heart heavy with the reality of his wife’s prolonged suffering. 

Nurse Nancy comforts Mr Png in a time of distress

“You just have to accept it, okay?” Nancy’s comforting touch on Mr Png’s shoulder conveyed understanding, a silent promise of support on their shared journey.

A COMPLEX BATTLE

Madam Chan’s battle with chronic neuropathic pain had been difficult—a relentless adversary that tested her resilience and that of her devoted family. Referred to the Tzu Chi palliative care team led by Nancy, the family hoped that Madam Chan would be made more comfortable. 

Yet, as fate would have it, her condition only grew more complex, her frail body bearing the burden of not just one but multiple afflictions. The decision for a leg amputation was a painful but necessary one, a stark reminder of the harsh realities they faced. 

“When we came, we supported her; we went to relieve her pain. The family wanted to keep her as comfortable as possible at home,” Nancy recalled, her words echoing the unwavering commitment to alleviate suffering and honour Madam Chan’s wishes.

UNDERSTANDING AND ACCEPTANCE

Amid the challenges, moments of tenderness and connection still flourished. Conversations with Madam Chan, though tinged with the sorrow of upcoming farewells, offered glimpses of shared memories and cherished routines. 

During her visits, Nurse Nancy starts her conversations with Mdm Chan by asking for her dietary preferences

Yet the shadows of adversity loomed large, casting a pall over their hopes for recovery. The diagnosis of colorectal cancer smashed their fragile illusions, ushering in a new chapter of pain and uncertainty. 

“The tumour—that one can’t be helped; she has even gone for radiotherapy. As long as there is no bleeding, it is ok,” said Simon Png, their son, with acceptance. 

Despite their unwavering efforts, the inevitable march of disease proved merciless. As Madam Chan’s health declined, the family grappled with the painful reality of an impending loss.

PREPARING FOR FAREWELL

After a heart-heavy consultation, the Png family gathered close relatives in Madam Chan’s bedroom to bid her farewell on the same day. Their unified presence provided essential closure for Madam Chan’s journey. 

“She has been good to me,” Mr Png confessed as he looked at his wife, his words echoing his deep affection. Nancy nodded in understanding as he expressed his reluctance to let her go. 

“I don’t want her to leave me. It’s hard for me,” Mr Png admitted, his vulnerability evident. 

“You have to know that death is inevitable when people get old. I’m trying to prepare you mentally for this.” Nancy offered gentle reassurance, acknowledging the inevitability of death with age and trying to ease his burden. 

“I understand,” Mr Png whispered, his acceptance tinged with sorrow. 

Privately, Nancy advised Simon and his siblings to talk to their father, helping him come to terms with their impending loss.

Nurse Nancy providing advice and support to the family through the process of grieving

GRIEF AND HEALING

In the quiet hours of her final days, surrounded by the love of her family, Madam Chan’s journey drew to a close. With Nancy’s gentle guidance and unwavering support, Mr Png found solace amid the storm of grief, his heart heavy with the weight of a love that has lasted a lifetime. 

“You have to let me know so I can help you,” Nancy assured Mr. Png in a home visit after the wake. 

Mr. Png acknowledged, “It can’t be helped; it’s tough.” 

Nancy advised, “You just go about your day, cook your meal, and do your things, okay? That way, she won’t worry about you. Even though she has left you, her heart is still in your heart, right? If you are having a hard time, she will not be able to go her way. You have to bless her, okay?” 

Understanding the distress caregivers often face, the Tzu Chi palliative care team began monitoring their emotional well-being. Nancy offered solace through prayer for the departed soul, encouraging the family to find comfort in their faith. 

As the days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the Png family navigated the uncharted waters of grief and healing. Supported by Nancy’s compassion and the enduring bonds of family, they found strength in each other’s embrace, forging ahead with resilience and hope. 

Although the pain of losing a loved one may never truly fades, the memories of love and laughter shared with Madam Chan will remain etched in her family’s hearts. As they bid farewell to Nancy and her team, they carry with them the profound lessons learned in love, loss, and the enduring power of human connection.

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