Palliative Care Nurse & End of Life Doula
Even as a nurse of 40 years, I can still remember my first patient death. I had just started nursing and was caring for a young mother who had been given a life limiting diagnosis. Understandably, she cried a lot, and yet for all of our training, supporting dying patients was not something I had been taught. I knew she didn't want me there, and I felt uncomfortable being in the room with her, not because I didn't want to help this woman but because I simply didn't know how. Despite this, over my nursing career I found myself drawn to dying patients. I wanted to learn more about the process so I could offer patients worthy end of life care, and I wanted to feel comfortable with them so that we could have the open and sometimes difficult conversations that many avoid around this time. This started in a small four-bed palliative ward, where I spent a lot of time talking, listening, comforting, and holding patients' hands. After years of caring for hundreds of dying patients and their families as a Clinical Nurse, and with further studies, I began to feel confident in the care and support I was offering and I knew that this was where my passion lay.
The story behind
'The Last Leaf'
A few years ago, I cared for a man named Bill with his wife Robyn, as he died. He was an old bushy at heart and had many stories to share with me, but his favourite was a short story written by O'Henry, The Last Leaf. Bill recounted the story about a young woman who was seriously ill with pneumonia, and she believed that she would die when the ivy vine on the wall outside her window lost its last leaf. He told me the story with such passion and sincerity despite his frail condition and I knew that this would be the name for my new business. And so, The Last Leaf End of Life Doula, was born to help people like Bill and his wife Robyn navigate death and grief.
Dying isn't easy, but I believe that those last days, weeks and months are so precious. Over my career I have been honoured to care for many people during their end of life and I have a deep understanding of the dying process and what it looks like, and my connections within the community mean that there are many places I can turn to help answer your questions and get the information you need. I am also a member of NEDA, National End of Life Doula Alliance, IICT, the International Institute for Complementary Therapies, and PCA Palliative Care Australia. If you'd like to know more, you can read the full list of services I offer as an End of Life Doula here.