Talking about dying is hard. And it is sad. However, preparing for our death can relieve the decision-making burden on those closest to us.
Terry was an adoring grandfather, and it was for this reason that he made several decisions about what he wanted to happen after he died.
Terry passed away in March 2021, while living at VMCH Providence Aged Care Residence, Bacchus Marsh. He was living with Lewy Body Dementia, which was progressively becoming worse.
“In hindsight, I kept him at home for too long,” says Linda, Terry’s wife. “But I had looked at some aged care homes, and I was disheartened by them. Then it got to the stage that he was falling over, and it just became too dangerous at home.”
Terry had an Advance Care Directive in place. He knew he didn’t want to be resuscitated or be force fed. Linda said his wishes were known, should he not be able to communicate them.
As Terry’s health declined, he was placed into palliative care, which only lasted a short period of time. Whilst it was a difficult time for Linda and her daughters, they couldn’t fault the care that they all received from the staff.
“We felt so supported by VMCH. They made us food, we had plenty to drink, they couldn’t do enough. They went above and beyond. I know it’s their job, but it was the compassion they showed us.”
It was during the arranging of funeral details for Terry’s parents that he and Linda talked about what they did and didn’t want if they were sick, or after they had died.
“When his mum died, he found it upsetting to see the coffin at her funeral. He didn’t want to let his grandchildren see that; how would they feel? So, we both said, if anything happened, there would be no visible coffin, it would be a memorial with things that belonged to us.”
Terry’s other wishes included having memory trees instead of flowers, and they asked those attending the funeral to donate to the CFA instead of giving flowers.
“That was what he wanted. Before he got sick, we talked about it. It’s not something you want to discuss, but after his parents died, we sat down to do their funerals, and we were just having a conversation about it. It’s so important to have that casual conversation. Don’t wait until they’re ill. They are fragile, and they don’t want to talk about their impending death.
“Terry was the love of my life; we were married for 48 years. We had a wonderful marriage. He was a very good man, anything he put his mind to, he could do. He loved working at the CFA. He adored his grandchildren.
“I was his queen. If I was happy, he was happy. We did everything together. The last three years he was not the Terry I married. Now I can think of him now as the Terry I knew.”