Kris - book

“My dad was finding it hard to eat and was losing a lot of weight. He didn’t want to go to the doctor but we eventually got him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with cancer. It was very scary for me, because we’d already lost mum to cancer twelve years before. Dad didn’t want to go into a nursing home. I suggested he come here for a holiday and when he got here, dad started feeling more at ease so he stayed.

Dad had a bit of damage in the brain so he didn’t have that decision-making ability to have a shower, or clean, or remember to eat. I became like the parent and he became like the child in the relationship. I do personal care work, but it was hard to tell him what to do. He didn’t want people fussing over him and he thought I was being bossy.

The palliative care team was great, and offered a bit of a break when we needed time apart. They checked on us every week or two at the start, but when dad got sicker, they were here daily. And when dad had really bad pain they’d always come. There was extra equipment that helped, like the shower chair. They were fantastic with dad and I found that really comforting. I felt like they were part of the family in the end.

The palliative care team brought the end of life package and asked dad what he wanted. He wanted to be here at home, with his two kids. We were both here with him at the end and he got his wish. It was sad, but I wanted to do it and my partner Anthony supported me. Anthony’s my rock and I couldn’t live without him. He helped wash and feed dad, and he kept the peace sometimes. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, mainly because dad and I get on each other’s nerves, but I wanted to spend as much time with him as I could.

It was quite quick so it was good for him, and we didn’t see him suffer too much. It was only during the last few weeks that he seemed to be a bit scared.

My sister came up occasionally, but she has teenage kids so that was hard for her. Because I’d moved home after more than a decade in Mackay, I didn’t really know anyone around here, so I was really doing things by myself. I was all over the place; happy one minute and crying the next. I told dad I loved him every night and tried to do the best for him.

Dad loved the visits from Joe, a volunteer, who used to come to sit with dad for two hours each week. They were both musical, so they’d play guitar and piano. Joe was lovely. I think I’d get more people to come and see dad if I had a chance to do it again. We couldn’t really do a lot because he was in pain, but I’d try to make it a bit more of a celebration of his life.

When dad died, it was a bit of a relief because he was out of pain. I was very sad, but calm too because I knew he was in a better place. He died in our spare room, and I feel like he’s still here in some ways. After he died I went to the hairdresser and asked her to do something different. I really wanted a change.

Normally I go for walks, or I’ll go for a drive when I’m having a bad day. I go to the Grampians, which is where we went for dad’s last drive. He loved it up there and he wanted to see it again. We’re going to scatter mum and dad’s ashes there eventually.

It’s been six months, and it’s a lot better now but I wonder if I’ll ever be really over it. Anthony and I have talked about what we’d want too. We value life and friends more now, and it’s made our relationship stronger. I’m thinking of doing Meals on Wheels, or volunteering somewhere. I’ve been hiding for a little while because it’s been a bit traumatic. I just need to get out so I can find my feet and start again.” – Kris


Frank was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer a year ago. His daughter Kris invited him to stay, and looked after him with the help of the local palliative care team. He died at home six months later.

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What is it like to care for a family member at home when they are in palliative care? How does that change your relationship? How does it change how you live your life? What is it like when they die? How do you cope with grief?

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“He was in my arms when he died, on a sunny day, in his own house that we built. He was looking into my eyes and we lay down. He took his two last breaths and he died in my arms. It was very quick. He’d said his goodbyes, said, “I love you”. It was an intense connection. It was a very powerful moment.” – Kylie

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“We value life and friends more now, and it’s made our relationship stronger. I’m thinking of doing Meals on Wheels, or volunteering somewhere. I just need to get out so I can find my feet and start again.” – Kris

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“We value life and friends more now, and it’s made our relationship stronger. I’m thinking of doing Meals on Wheels, or volunteering somewhere. I just need to get out so I can find my feet and start again.” – Kris

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