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Good end of life care keeps happy memories alive

Husband shares happy memories with wife who is receiving end of life care in a hospice

Memories of a loved one’s final moments can stay with you long after they have died. Findings from leading charity Marie Curie suggest that the quality of end of life care a patient receives could have an impact on how the bereaved remember the life of their loved one.

More than a third of people felt that poor end of life care ‘tainted’ the good memories they had of their loved one, according to Marie Curie, which provides care and support for the terminally ill and their families. Almost a fifth felt that better end of life care could have helped them think back on their loved one with happier memories.

The survey, conducted to mark the charity’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal, asked 1,155 people about their experience of losing a friend or relative to terminal illness.

The results show that more than eight out of 10 people believe that positive memories of a loved one can help when coping with grief, but many also believe that inadequate end of life care can tarnish those memories. This suggests that better end of life care could help preserve good memories, or even build new ones, helping the bereaved deal with the pain of losing a loved one.

Jennie Clark’s husband received home-based care from a Marie Curie nurse before his death.

“Our Marie Curie nurse was such a wonderful support to me and my husband Ken in his final days,” she said. “She made the whole thing beautiful. It sounds ridiculous saying your husband dying was beautiful but it was.

“Ken was a truly wonderful husband – we had a very happy marriage and I had 40 years with him and the support we had from Marie Curie ensured these memories weren’t tarnished towards the end.”

Marie Curie bereavement specialist Ann Scanlon said: “It is sad to see so many people feeling that their lasting memories have been tainted by the poor care that their loved ones had received at an important and precious time.

“When you lose someone close to you, it can be an overwhelming and potentially traumatic experience, but with the right care and support in place it can also be as peaceful and calm as possible. It’s important to remember that help is available.”

If your loved one is suffering from a terminal illness, organisations like Marie Curie can provide quality end of life care at home. Additionally, taking the time to make an end of life care plan, also known as advance care planning lets you plan ahead and make important decisions about how you want to be cared for in your final days, which could let you focus on the good times and keep positive memories alive.

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