Voices: A Letter From a Client
I am writing to thank you for the enormous support you provided when my dad was in the final stages of melanoma. I'm not sure you'll remember the details of our conversation, but it is one I will never forget.
My dad had been ready to die for a while. As his weight, strength and appetite disappeared, I think he began devoting a lot of time to researching his options. Although I assured him that he did not need to worry, he was not convinced. When I reached you on the phone you provided the comfort and accurate information I had been searching for. My dad experienced immeasurable relief knowing he could still exercise control over his life.
I cried for a long time that night. I was able to help my dad find someone who provided the ultimate peace of mind. After our talk, the "how" was over. My dad regained control of his life. After contacting you that night, I knew I'd done everything possible to help my father.
Another component of the tears, I believe, comes from finding the only person, throughout the illness, who completely understood what my dad and I wanted. I remember that although it was late (I believe around 6:00 p.m. your time) you spoke with me for at least 45 minutes. Never did I feel rushed or pressured to economize my questions. Often, when my dad and I met with doctors, there was the sense that their time was so valuable, so important that we had to tailor our questions to their tight schedule. When I spoke with you, I felt that you existed for us. Our needs were your top, and only, priority.
You said that when the time came, no matter what hour or day, we could reach you on your cell phone. You said you would provide as much support as we needed. And you were available afterwards if issues arose. What I'm trying to convey is the massive gratitude I feel for you. While there were several wonderful doctors who helped along the way, the only time I felt completely taken care of is when I spoke with you. I knew my father was in the hands of someone warm, competent and caring. I think the tears are tears of happiness. Our time on the phone, and your talk with my dad, provided unbelievable relief and joy at the hardest time in our lives. You should be proud of the job you do and how you do it.
After we spoke, my dad set the date for a month away. As the days went on, his girlfriend and I realized he would not make it to that date. One night, with the help of a local hospice nurse, he passed away peacefully, with dignity. I think he was happy because he died peacefully.
I hope that the legal right and wherewithal to die with dignity and control is granted to everyone someday soon. Until then, I am comforted knowing that you are there for me and for everyone who needs to realize the most basic right.
With the warmest thoughts,
This article was provided by Compassion & Choices. It is a part of the publication Compassion & Choices Magazine.