Meet the end-of-life angels who prepare the terminally ill for the day they die

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Both men and women wonder about their partner finding someone new, and it’s not uncommon to feel anxious about being replaced. You could call it the “I bet you’ll end up with Barbara” worry. As Punt says, “When children are involved, it’s a very emotional situation. Maybe a mother is dying and there are two young children left. Who will Dad meet and who will step into Mom’s shoes? This can be a real concern.

“But then, on the other hand, there can be someone who is actually giving their partner permission to go out and find someone and not be alone. It’s such an individual thing. I think the beauty of what we are able to do, and the privilege that we have, is that we can sit down with someone regardless of their fears, worries and concerns about their death, and we can work with him.

Punt tells me about a family she worked with fairly recently (we have changed some details for confidentiality) where a married man with a son and a daughter was told he had one year to live . It was his desperate wife who came to Maggie’s house first, Punt recalls. “He was totally in denial and was carrying on as usual and she was trying to sort it all out.”

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The husband also came for advice. Punt and his colleagues then helped the family start a series of conversations. There were finances to discuss, plans for the garden, and some decorations the man had wanted to see through. There was the education of their children, at school and at home. “He wanted to show his son how to shave,” says Punt.

Where appropriate, children participated in these conversations. They had time with an art therapist, who helped them articulate their emotions in a gentle setting. They were given the option to sit with their father until the end, and they took it.

The man died at home, says Punt, surrounded by his family. “I think the last few hours haven’t been desperately comfortable. But I think it was as good as it gets.


What will happen to my family after I leave?

Mandie Malcolm, 32

I had just turned 26 when I discovered a lump on my breast. Because a lump can be any of several things, I wasn’t too worried. What a shock I had when the doctor said it was cancer. Worse, it was a secondary cancer: it had spread aggressively. I was told shortly after the diagnosis that I probably had a few years left to live.

It was petrifying. My mom was with me when I heard the news, but the worst part was breaking the news to my friends and family. We are very close and they all support us, but I knew it must be difficult for them too. I always thought about dying and leaving them behind. At the same time, there were so many things I still wanted to do, like traveling the world.

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Mom started using Maggie’s Edinburgh before me. When I went myself I was nervous along the way, but from the moment I walked in they were all very friendly. Through Maggie’s I have had many individual counseling sessions and group sessions with others who are going through the same thing as me. I go to yoga classes at the center and have had a lot of help with my finances. There are horrible and complicated forms to fill out to get benefits, but Maggie’s counselor helped me with the paperwork and relieved me of any pressure. My family also receives a lot of support.

The diagnosis dates back six years and I am still here. I managed to get through everything I wanted to do, and now I’m just adding things to the list. After chemotherapy, I had hormone therapy, and because it was easier on my body, I was able to do things like visit Australia. I ran a marathon and wrote a column for my local newspaper, The Falkirk Herald. After my diagnosis I thought I could never plan my own wedding, just my funeral, but I got married last year – it was a really special day.

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A lot of people say, “I know what you’re going through,” but that’s not really the case. Thanks to Maggie, I made a friend, Leslie, who is in exactly the same situation as me, and it’s nice to be able to talk to someone like her. One of the worst things is that you feel out of control of what happens to your body, and time flies.

My outlook on life has changed tremendously. Because I spent so many days in bed and didn’t feel good, I really appreciate feeling good. I enjoy every day that is given to me and I want to be around nice people, enjoying life rather than putting things off. Just going for a long walk with my dog ​​means a lot to me.

I’ve had a lot of different treatments and I’m probably starting to run out of them. Things are going better than the doctors thought, but I remain realistic. Each additional birthday is special.


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