Derrick's wife Elizabeth was cared for by our Hospice in the Home nurses, but in 2017 she was admitted to a care home as Derrick could not cope looking after Elizabeth at home. Here, Derrick shares his story and explains why Cottage Hospice is so desperately needed.
"I met Elizabeth in 1963 when I went into a record shop in Tunbridge Wells, to buy an LP by Dave Brubeck. She worked there, and I asked her for a date. We went to see Elvis at the pictures and the rest as they say, is history.
Elizabeth was my wife for nearly 51 years during which she often surprised me with her versatility. She was an accomplished seamstress (making many of her dresses), she loved knitting, was an excellent cook and gardener and most importantly a doting mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
She was brave, loving, self-confident, and at times could be outspoken and obstinate. But I loved her.
For the last eight years of her life Elizabeth bravely fought a battle for her health. In 2010 she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour. The tumours multiplied and in October 2014 she lost the sight in her left eye.
In April 2017 Elizabeth was becoming weaker so we had a bed installed in our dining room because she could no longer get upstairs. I was now looking after her completely, but a month later I found that I could not cope.
I found it difficult to get her in and out of bed and provide her with the personal care she needed and deserved. With the help of Hospice in the Weald I managed to get Elizabeth admitted to a care home, the last thing Elizabeth wanted. But I had no choice, something I still feel very guilty about.
On 22nd May 2017 I received a call from the care home. I drove over there immediately, but I was five minutes late. Elizabeth had died.
If Cottage Hospice had been available last year, I would have been able to care for Elizabeth in a warm and comfortable environment where I could stay with her 24 hours a day. After 50 years of marriage I would now have the satisfaction that I had done everything possible to support my wife at the end of her life"
Cottage Hospice empowers families, however they are defined by the patient, to look after their loved ones in the final days and weeks of life. To find out more about Cottage Hospice, click here.