Stephen & Annette's story

“What the Rennie Grove team enabled my wife to do was quite exceptional and I would like to pass my thanks to everybody involved."

Annette Williams lived with cancer for nine years. When her prognosis became terminal she decided she’d prefer to be cared for at home. Her husband Stephen explains in his own words how nurses from Rennie Grove Hospice Care enabled her to die at home…

“The arrival of your survey reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write for some time now, to thank you all for the incredible help and assistance provided by the Rennie Grove team in February and March this year.

“When it finally became clear what the prognosis was, my wife decided she didn’t want to die in a hospital, she wanted to spend the time she had left in the home she loved, with her family and friends close at hand. I was able to put work on hold so I could devote myself to her care – but she also needed proper medical supervision and the kind of support that could respond to emergencies at any time of day or night – and that is exactly what you did, and everybody who came was fantastic.

“Annette lived with cancer for 9 years so we’d had a long time to get used to the idea of her death and to prepare for it (in so far as that is possible); fortunately she was an incredibly strong and practical person, and she got me to be where I needed to be emotionally – so much so that we were able to really enjoy her last months and NOT waste them being gloomy and fretting about something we were powerless to change.

“I absolutely treasure the memory of that time together because it was some of the best we ever had. Annette said she wouldn’t have missed it for anything – and she wasn’t trying to be ironic either, that’s simply how it was – but it wouldn’t have been quite the same or as wonderful if we had been separated by a car journey – and being at home also made the last days easier to handle.

“The way things turned out, when Annette died it was very early in the morning and we were by ourselves, there was no hovering in the background to intrude on what is such an awesome and intensely private moment. Yes, of course I’m utterly heartbroken and miss her terribly and I cannot imagine getting old without her – but in the circumstances her release was a blessing, bringing to an end a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort, all of which she bore without complaint.

“She was a remarkable woman who was able to approach death with complete equanimity and died without any anxiety. That she was allowed a serene and beautiful death is all that mattered, and for that I am profoundly grateful – as indeed I am for the two Iain Rennie nurses who came after I called to say that she’d gone. There aren’t really any words adequate enough to express how much I owe them for their dedication to the job, and for their compassion and humanity when I was at my very lowest.

“Looking back, the only thing I’d do differently (and this is all my fault) – but there was a point 2-3 days before the end when I realised I wouldn’t be able to leave my wife’s side for a minute and that meant I couldn’t afford to doze off either – but I managed to organise a rota of friends who could be at Annette’s side while I got some sleep (not forgetting the two Iain Rennie nurses who stayed for several hours early one morning when they noticed how shattered I was).

“What the Rennie Grove team enabled my wife to do was quite exceptional and I would like to pass my thanks to everybody involved."

October 2013