A Single Voice Made All The Difference - Sandra's Story

My son was the most remarkable young man. He was funny, caring, with a quirky, dry sense of humour. In a million years, I could never have imagined that my parting words to him on the day of his surgery would be our last. But they were.

When my son was admitted to the local hospital, we had no idea we would lose him. None at all! We were not prepared in any way. How can you be prepared to lose your only son? We never had a discussion about what would happen in the event of his death. You never want to think about such things happening to your child.

In the ICU, it was chaotic. There were so many people coming and going. We were in shock and just wanted answers. There was one particular nurse who dropped everything to just spend time with us. She talked to us, tended to my son’s needs, and did all that she could to help my boy. It was an extremely difficult environment, with noises, different doctors and nurses rushing in and out. But this nurse was always there. She was a little older than the other nurses and she made a connection with us. She spoke about where she came from and we connected over our respective upbringings in the Huon Valley.  She took the time and showed me such kindness and humanity. Just being there and talking to me made me feel like I was not alone. If it wasn’t for her, I would have struggled to be there for my family.

Three days after he was admitted to the ICU, my son died in my arms. The nurse was there with me the whole time. She brought in the doctors involved and helped me express my wishes that my son would not want to be on life support. She talked to the care team and advocated for our request to respect his wishes.  She never left my side, except to be with my family, including my two daughters in the waiting room.  She cradled them and helped them as we grieved together as a family. She showed us the utmost respect and helped in any way that she could. She allowed me to turn off his life support and let him pass away in my arms.

The experience at the hospital was traumatic. If it wasn’t for this nurse, it would have been so much more unbearable. Being so young, you never expect that your son will end up in palliative care. If I could meet this nurse again, I would wrap my arms around her and say “thank you”. She helped my family more than I can ever express. She just had an aura about her. She cared, she honestly cared. She was a source of strength when we needed her. She was not crying with me, but she let ME cry. She protected my need to be with my son and gave me strength.

I met a wonderful mother whose son had also died. She and I connected immediately. We were able to talk to each other in a way that no one else could understand. Every death is so different. How we react to each other is so different. We can find little elements of common humanity and we help each other heal.